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Edited by F. W. Hodge 

Vol. I 



No. 5 








This series of Indian Notes and Mono- 
graphs is devoted to the publication of the 
results of studies by members of the staff and 
by collaborators of the Museum of the Ameri- 
can Indian, Heye Foundation, and is uniform 
with Hispanic Notes and Monographs, 
published by the Hispanic Society of 
America, with which organization this 
Museum is in cordial cooperation. 

A List of Publications of the Museum 
will be sent on request. 

Museum of the American Indian 
Heye Foundation 

Broadway at 155th St. 
New York City 


Edited by F. W. Hodge 

Vol. I 

No. 5 



















Introduction 227 

Present Distribution of the Descendants of the Pow- 
hatan Group 236 

Pamunkey 237 

Mattaponi 254 

Adamstown or Upper Mattaponi Band 263 

Chickahominy 267 

Nansamond 278 

Rappahannock 280 

Potomac 282 

The Powhatan Confederacy 286 

Political Life 301 

The Question of the Maternal Clan 306 

Legal Status of the Pamunkey Tribe 307 

Pamunkey Hunting Grounds 312 

Hunting Customs 330 

A Pamunkey Turkey-hunt 351 

Turkey-calling 356 

Fishing Customs 359 

Canoes 374 

Agriculture 382 

Pamunkey Pottery 394 

Featherwork 433 

Postscript 450 

Appendix Note 453 



NO. 5, PL. 






By Frank G. Speck 


AMID the extensive gum swamps and pine 
barrens of eastern Virginia there existed 
formerly an Indian culture area of consider- 
able complexity and of great importance. The 
reason for its importance lies in the bearing it had 
on the absorbing problem of Algonkian distribution. 
The Virginia Algonkians were geographically situ- 
ated near the southeastern terminus of the great 
linguistic family: their culture was therefore marginal 
to the stock. And yet the group, on account of 
its advancement and complexity, appeared as a peak 
of culture — a concretion sufficient to deserve rank 
as a distinct sub-center, in short, a marginal sub- 
center. The complexities, however, are by no means 
baffling, inasmuch as the main source of influence 
from the outside may be distinctly traced to the 
southeastern or Gulf area, without specifying 
whether it arose from Muskogian or possibly an 
older eastern Siouan, or even an Iroquoian culture. 
The Virginia tidewater Algonkians, indeed, appear 
to have been less Algonkian in culture than they 



were in speech. A similar change of culture has 
been noted in the history of the Blackfeet, Cheyenne, 
and Arapaho, whose Algonkian affinities stand 
forth only through the link of language. The paren- 
tal Algonkian linguistic characteristics of the 
Virginia branch of the stock were retained with 
remarkably little modification. Yet in respect to 
material and social life the Powhatan tribes had 
become converted by southern influences to such 
an extent that their culture status, had we no 
information concerning language to guide us, would 
trend more toward classification with the Gulf area 
than with the Algonkian of the north. As to the 
physical characteristics of the original Virginia 
tribes, at present we know practically nothing. A 
study of the modern mixed communities has, how- 
ever, been begun. 

A second feature of importance in an attempt at 
the interpretation of culture movements in this area 
is the part played by these intermediate Algonkians 
in conveying to the tribes through Pennsylvania, 
New Jersey, and even as far as southern New 
England, a collection of southern ethnic traits. Thus 
there was created a northeasterly culture migration, 
affecting, by the introduction of agriculture and its 
arts, the industrial and social life of Algonkian groups 
far into the northern hunting area. We may see how the 
Algonkians of the Middle Atlantic and southern New 
England states got their corn, bean, and tobacco 
culture, and most of the artifacts concerned with 


those non-nomadic activities, their splint basketry, 
woven fiber fabrics, especially the remarkable feather 
technique, their mat- and bark-covered rectangular 
wigwams, and many other details of economic life. 
The custom of cleaning the bones of the dead for 
burial was also working northward. In surveying 
the social and religious aspects of eastern Algonkian 
life one has a strong suspicion that from the southern 
portion of the continent, brought along by Iroquoian 
migration, also came such traits as the matrilineal 
reckoning of descent, with animal totemic associ- 
ations. With the foregoing also came the develop- 
ment of autocratic power vested in the hands of 
the hereditary chief, the weakening of the old Algon- 
kian institution of the hunting territory as the 
nomadic hunting life gave way to agriculture, and 
finally the corn festival, to which may be added 
fortified stockades, ceramic influences, fish-nets, 
shell beads, the water-drum, the two-stick ball- 
game, methods of hair-dressing, the single-seam 
one-piece moccasin, shamanistic societies, mound 
erection, and group burial. After considering the 
circumstance of language in Virginia one might 
assume a southeastward migration of Algonkian- 
speaking peoples to have taken place, who gradually 
acquired the superior economic and social properties 
of the south and later served in the northern spread 
of the resulting culture-complex. There is evidence 
in this direction, both archeological and historical, 
pointing out that the Powhatan people were not 


resident In the tidewater region for a very long 
period. Strachey, the most explicit author on 
Virginia ethnology, estimated in 1616, from what 
he had been told by the Powhatan, that the 
Indians had not been Inhabitants below the falls 
of the James (the site of Richmond) for much more 
than three hundred years. ^ In a paper- published 
several years ago on one of the southeastern Algon- 
kian remnants, the Machapunga, I presented an 
impression of the recency of the southward Algon- 
kian migration into Virginia, and the conclusions 
reached now, after reviewing the whole field in more 
detail, support this view. 

As a preface to the ensuing chapters on special 
topics of ethnology in early Virginia, the foregoing 
remarks appearing at the beginning of my report 
will serve to direct attention to what is evidently 
the key to an understanding of the relationship 
and distribution problems set before us by the 
peculiar developments which characterize the little- 
known tribes from Pennsylvania southward to the 
North Carolina line. 

In preparing the treatment of the independent 
topics of ethnology based on practices and folk- 
knowledge surviving among the existing descend- 

^ Strachey, Wm., The Historle of Travalle Into Virginia 
Britannia, 1616, London, 1849, p. 33. 

2 Remnants of the Alachapunga Indians of North 
Carolina, Amer. Anthr., n.s., vol. xviii, no. 2, pp. llS-lld, 
1916, and The Ethnic Position of the Southeastern 
Algonkian, ibid., vol. xxvi, no. 2, 1924. 


ants, I have chosen to deal first with the so-called 
Powhatan confederacy and the subject of govern- 
ment, then with the theme of the individual hunting 
territories, ever-present among the Algonkians who 
tenaciously cherish their hunting traditions, and to 
follow this by a description of economic properties, 
ceramics, and featherwork, the memory of which 
time has not been effaced among these antiquity- 
loving Virginians. 

Whereas the bulk of the culture traits enumerated 
above stand on the records only by mention, the few 
of them for which description and discussion are 
permitted by their survival down to later times — 
some even within reach today — have been chosen 
for treatment here. There are various ways of 
regarding records like these as they come to our 
hands for perusal, but it should be obvious to one 
looking over these pages that their contribution is 
intended to deepen the existing knowledge of ethnic 
properties of a people early transformed from their 
original native estate by ruinous association with 
Europeans; also to place their culture group on the 
map of ethnological comparisons in the East — 
nothing more. In days to come, when living 
sources open for investigation are absolutely closed, 
the real intensive study of this area, once rich in 
development, will be made. 

With the preceding suggestions in mind, let us 
turn to the account of protracted investigations 
among the Virginia tribes during the last ten years. 


The task of trying to reconstruct Powhatan eth- 
nology has indeed been like conjuring. There 
seems to be little on the surface, yet shadows of 
remote customs and modified survivals of old eco- 
nomic life persist. Then we are aided by some 
archeological examinations that are far from com- 
plete. Chiefly, however, w^e have to thank the early 
Virginia chronicles for much information covering 
not only native industrial life, but ceremonies as 
well. As to the present field, no one can say that 
it is exhausted. Many pleasant weeks have been 
passed consorting with the much-diluted Indian 
remnants of the tidewater country, yet each season 
creates a deeper feeling of respect for their loyal 
tenacity to their Indian traditions. This is respon- 
sible for the survival of many desirable facts hidden 
away in memory's closets. For the rest it has been 
inevitable that a people who have held their own 
territory for three centuries through three wars with 
Europeans covering at least thirty-two almost con- 
tinuous years of that period, then subdued but not 
obliterated, should have something concerning 
their old life to offer to the interested and sym- 
pathetic investigator, provided he have patience 
enough to bear the slowness of the process. 

The Powhatan culture area is one thing, the 
political area is another. Roughly speaking, the 
culture area, from the point of view of archeology 
and recorded ethnology, included that portion of 
eastern Virginia south of the Potomac river to about 


the frontier of North Carolina, all the territory 
lying east of the Piedmont, or the fall-line, extending 
irregularly from Washington through Fredericks- 
burg, Richmond, and Petersburg. Approximately 
on each of the great tidal rivers this western girdle 
of the Powhatan area was only a little above the 
tide-line. The Powhatan tribes, therefore, may be 
considered definitely as possessing a culture adapted 
to the tidal stretches of the coastal plain. They 
exhibit an illustration of Wissler's theory of alti- 
tudinal habitat, having of all the Algonkians the 
most extensively unelevated homeland. The same 
culture boundary included, from testimony given 
by Hariot and DeBry, the Algonkians of the North 
Carolina coast as far as Pamlico sound. On the 
eastern shore of Chesapeake bay, along the Accomac 
peninsula, dwelt the Accomac and Accohanoc, 
included under Powhatan rule as far north as the 
Maryland line. If subsequent archeological research 
establishes for this region a relationship closer to the 
Powhatan than to the Nanticoke northward, it may 
mean that the Accohanoc or Accomac did not mi- 
grate into the lower peninsula from its northern 
base, but that they crossed Chesapeake bay near 
the Virginia capes, tracing their expansion directly 
from the Powhatan units with which they remained 
in touch. Up to this point we have considered the 
boundary features of the culture group which 
became so well known as the Virginia or Powhatan 


It is evident that the surmises of ethnology are 
reasonable: that the Powhatan group bore close 
resemblance to the Conoy and the Nanticoke. And 
further, the culture connection is extendible in 
larger terms to the Delawares. Among the hall- 
marks of unity over the whole territory just noted 
were the practices of cleaning the bones of the bodies 
of chiefs and preserving their bodies or bones in 
houses consecrated to the purpose, the burial ossu- 
aries, the ^ranial deformation, idol ceremonies 
directed to supernatural beings called okee, the new 
fire rite, scratching rite, and the emetic at harvest 
time in southern Mrginia and in North Carolina, a 
priesthood-shaman order, and the monarchical form 
of government. Many technical and industrial 
traits showing forth in architecture, ceramics, 
basketry, clay pipes, the featherwork, the elements 
and utensils of maize, tobacco, and bean cultivation, 
indicate the southern environment. Relationship 
confronts us as a likelihood in other fields of activity, 
such as warfare, fishing, and hunting. Harrington 
records indications of Nanticoke influence upon 
Delaware religion. 

For instance, the relative shortness of the hunting 
season, in contrast with intensity of agriculture, 
the deer-drive and the practice of using fire in driving 
game, the communal village hunt, in general all 
savor of the southeast. Certain fishing practices 
do also: the use of the basket- trap, killing fish by 
poisoning the streams with vegetal juices, and 


shooting fish with an arrow tied to a line, all being 
customs attributed to the Virginia tribes in the past. 
To the foregoing summary of Powhatan culture 
traits may be added some whose southern affinities 
are suggestively shown forth. These, to be sure, 
cannot be classified dogmatically until tests have 
been carried further. A very useful resume of 
Virginia ethnology, based on seventeenth century 
sources, is given by Willoughby,^ in which he con- 
sidered a number of Mrginia religious institutions 
to have been ''adopted from the southern Indians." - 
We may add that a similar inference may be drawn 
from the occurrence of such characteristics in \'ir- 
ginia as the pot-drum used in dances: that is, a drum 
consisting of an earthen pot containing some water 
and covered with a piece of stretched hide, the 
"roached" hair fashion affected by men, the dressing 
of the hair among priests by shaving oft* all in front 
except a visor-like ridge across the forehead, the 
use of body decoration in the form of feathers stuck 
on the skin which has been coated with a sticky oil, 
wearing the dried head of an enemy, the weaving of 
feather mantles, garments of the "poncho" type, 
the absence of tailored garments, the moccasin of 
one piece of leather gathered in one long seam 
reaching from the toe to the instep, the ''reed," 
the conical metal arrowhead of historic times, the 

^ Willoughby, C. C, The Virginia Indians in the Seven- 
teenth Centur\', Amer. Anthr., N.s., vol. ix, no. 1, 1907. 
- Ibid., p. 63. 


"sword" or club with small pieces of stone set like 
teeth along both edges, all remind the ethnologist 
of certain well-known far-southern culture traits. 
Such correspondences with the south would seem 
to provide reason for making a conclusion, in fact 
the main one arrived at, after going over the contents 
of the Powhatan culture area, namely, that we have 
a fairly recent migrant Algonkian group transformed 
extensively by association with a southeastern group. 


IN the tidewater region of eastern Virginia there 
are at the present time some two thousand 
descendants of the tribes originally constituting 
the so-called Powhatan confederacy. Very little 
attention has been paid to them by writers, whether 
ethnologists, historians, or folklorists. Some indeed 
have even assumed to deny their existence under 
the implication of there being no longer pure-blood 
Indians among them. Elimination, however, on 
this ground would involve a maze of controversy, 
for it would mean that many existing Indian groups 
all over North, Central, and South America, main- 
taining active tribal tradition, even government, 
would be consigned to the anomaly of classification 
as "whites" or "colored people." Nevertheless the 
Powhatan descendants persist within the confines of 
their ancient territory despite the efforts to crush 


them that began in 1608, and which, after reaching 
a climax during Bacon's Rebellion in 1676, have 
continued to menace them, though with declining 
force, until the present time. 

For the purpose of presenting certain facts to 
those who are interested in American folk-life and 
Indian survivals, I have prepared the following notes 
re-introducing the seven or eight "tribes" of de- 
scendants that now survive out of some thirty local 
groups originally forming Powhatan's "kingdom." 
Some of the groups have been already investigated 
by the writer for the Museum of the American 
Indian, Heye Foundation, but for the whole region 
there is need of actual exploration of their industrial, 
social, and folkloristic properties. It will reveal 
much that will elucidate the principles of race- and 
culture-blending among American folk-communities. 


Of the remnant tribes in Virginia, the Pamunkey 
have long formed the social backbone. They have 
retained their internal government, their social 
tradition and geographical position as the people of 
Powhatan. Their village is one mile from the 
station of Lester Manor, about twenty miles east of 
Richmond. It comprises an area of some three 
hundred acres almost surrounded by a curve of the 
Pamunkey river. Much of it is a virgin swamp 
which constitutes the tribal hunting ground (hg. 50). 
As their village was the capital in Indian days, the 


Pamunkey under Powhatan figured most promi- 
nently in the events connected with the founding of 
Jamestown and the explorations by Captain John 
Smith. Even after the disastrous but inevitable 
wars of 1622 and 1644 in which the Powhatan tribes 
were cut to pieces by English gunpowder and steel, 
the Pamunkey still preserved their integrity as a 
tribe and exacted a deed for their reservation from 
the Virginia assembly in 1677. 

This treaty is recorded in the Acts of the General 
Assembly of Virginia. The present chief and council 
retain a copy of it, which is quoted in the Virginia 
Magazine of History and Biography (vol. v, pp. 
189-195). It explicitly mentions the rights of the 
Indians, permitting ''oystering, fishing, gathering 
tuckahoe, curtenemmons,^ wild oats, rushes, and 
puckwone.'" The treaty also alludes to the return 
of white children and slaves among the Indians and 
forbids any further enslavement of Indians. There 
are known to have been subsequent records of deal- 
ings with the Indians preserved in the archives of 
King William Court House; but these were destroyed 
at the time when, during the Civil War, the court 
house was burned by the Northern troops and the 
records in the clerk's office lost. 

Thus having secured a home right to reside in 

^ The term curtenemmons refers to the dock-plant grow- 
ing on the river. In Chickahominy the word is cutlemoUy 
an interesting dialectic variation, if the word is not per- 
chance a derivation from English ''cut-lemon," which the 
pod actually resembles. 







Fig. 2. — Ottigny Cook, son of Chief Cook, Pamunkey. 


Fig. 3. — Captola Cook, Pamunkey, 









Fig. 5.— Chief William Terrill Bradby, Pamunkey. 
(Photo, by Bureau of American Ethnology.) 



o s 


















their old domains, the tribe settled down under its 
own rulership, where it may still be found. The 
reservation population has for a considerable time 
approximated 150 souls. The Indians on the 
Mattaponi river, 
only about ten miles 
from the Pamun- 
key, appear to have 
been closely affili- 
ated with the Pa- 
munkey, and the 
recent history of the 
two bands has been 
practically identi- 
cal. There are 
about 75 in the 
Mattaponi village 
near Wakema; they 
are completely 
merged in blood 
with the Pamun- 
key, through inter- 
marriage, and no differences in community life can 
be observed between them. The Mattaponi are 
also reservation Indians; their deed, in the posses- 
sion of the chief, dates also to 1658. The two 
preceding bands are the only ''reservated Indians," 
as they quaintly style themselves, in the state. 
Types of the group appear in figs. 1-14. 

The interesting band of Pamunkey Indian 

Fig. 11. — Jim Bradby, Pamunkey. 


descendants has been persistently ignored by serious 
investigators for reasons which are obvious but not 
good. Dwelling on their own land continuously 

since their 
complete de- 
feat about 
1676, the rem- 
nants have 
kept up their 
tribal organi- 
zation and to 
a degree their 
economic life 
without inter- 
ruption or in- 
terference, al- 
though they 
have lost en- 
tirely their 
language, their 
social and cer- 
emonial cul- 
ture. The 
little group 
has numbered 
about 150 
souls for many 
years with- 
out much change, as mentioned. Had they, how- 
ever, been able to keep together without the 

Fig. 12. — Pamunkey hunter with skin of an 
otter just killed. 



young men having to emigrate to the cities to 
find employment, the number would now be much 
larger. Many have married outside of the tribe 
and moved away, for Pamunkey law allows a man 
of the tribe to bring his alien wife to the reservation, 
but a girl who marries an outsider has to depart and 
reside off the res- 
ervation. More- 
over, any Pamun- 
key individuals 
who leave the town 
for two years with- 
out returning, be It 
only for a short 
time, forfeit their 
privileges as tribal 
members. Hence 
the Pamunkey, 
like the other sur- 
viving units of 
Virginia, are not 
dying out, but 
being absorbed In 
the general population. Such a process Is for senti- 
mental reasons unfortunate, but It Is Inevitable. 

The loss of the native language among all the 
Virginia remnants has been complete. Save for 
half a dozen words or so, mostly names of local flora 
and fauna, nothing remains. This situation is com- 
parable to cases elsewhere in the East, such as that 

Fig. 13. — Bob Miles, Pamunkey. 


of the Huron of Lorette, Province of Quebec, whose 
tongue has succumbed to French; the Algonkian 
remnants in southern New England, and the 
Catawba of South Carolina, all of whom now speak 

only English. One 
might be inclined to 
suspect that such a 
condition is associated 
in some way with ne- 
groid miscegenation 
were it not for the 
instance of the Huron- 
Iroquois of Quebec, 
whose mixture has been 
almost exclusively with 
the French. The only 
linguistic material we 
now possess, and this 
is only in glossaries 
except for half a dozen 
short sentences, is to 
be found in Smith's 
narrative and in 
Strachey's History of 
\ irginia. Since those 
times only some isola- 
ted words of question- 
able origin have been recorded from the Pamunkey 
by Dalrymple and from Xansamond by Mooney. At 
Chickahominy a short list of terms was given me 

Fig. 14. — Paul Miles, Pamunkey, 
in dance costume. 


several years ago. Most of them, however, proved 
to be Ojibwa. 

Among the Pamunkey a few native practices of 
great interest have been preserved from the past. 
They distribute their time between farming, fishing, 
and hunting. They raise the original native crops, 
they haul seine and trawl lines, and pursue deer, 
raccoons, and wild turkeys and other wild fowl on 
their famous river, and maintain their hunting terri- 
tories for the taking of fur and meat in the primeval 
swamp forming part of their reservation. Native 
snares and dead-fall traps still compete with modern 
methods of taking game. Only within the last 
twenty years have the hunters abandoned the use 
of the log dugout pirogue, though one may still 
be seen. 

Of native arts the Pamunkey have preserved the 
manufacture of their distinctive clay pots and pipes, 
and have even preserved that egregious technique, 
turkey-feather knitting, as well as declining phases 
of basketry and bead-working. And tribal govern- 
ment continues. Some dances and costume per- 
formances of a social and carnival character are part 
of their tradition. I have prepared an account of 
these properties of the Pamunkey and Mattaponi 
which is waiting its call to appear in print. 



For good reasons the Mattaponi^ may be classified 
definitely as a branch of the Pamunkey. They 
have not only an absolutely identical cultural 
foundation, but are a member of the same original 
political body divided from the main body by a 
distance of ten miles, and occupying land which 
was evidently a portion of the original tract reserved 
under the name of Pamunkey reservation. Their 
present reservation of almost 75 acres is on the 
south bank of the Mattaponi river, near the hamlet 
of Wakema. Their own settlement is called Indian 
Town (fig. 25). It is a compact picturesque village 
of whitewashed houses on a high blufT above the 
river and commands a fine view. Types of the 
group appear in figs. 15-24. 

There is a tradition at Pamunkey that the land 
intervening between the two reservations was sold 
for a barrel of rum. Mrs. Page, who in 1920 was 
83 years of age, said that this was the understanding 
among the people of her generation. She was born 
at Mattaponi and asserts that Billy Major, her 
mother's father, who died about 1845, could speak 
Indian. At Pamunkey there were at the time 
several in the families of Mush and Gunns who, it 
is claimed, knew the language. 

The Mattaponi records in existence comprise a 
deed, according to Chief Custalow, referred to in a 
letter from L. C. Garnett, Assistant Attorney 

^ The accent is on the i, pronounced as ai in aisle. 


Fig. 15. — Lee Major, Mattaponi, wearing native hat made of duck- 
skins. {Photo, by War field.) 











General, June 26, 1916. Through this instrument 
the Mattaponi lands were confirmed to the Indians 
in 1658, it is stated in the letter, by the Governor, 
Assembly of Virginia, Indian, Colonial and State 

Thomas Jefferson made several remarks con- 
cerning the Pamunkey and the Mattaponi, one being 
that there were 
none of pure 
blood living in 
his time, 1781, 
and that the 
language had 
H i s records, 
however, bear 
indication o f 
being neither 
extremely ac- 
curate nor 
carefully con- 
sidered, even 
from the his- 
torical point 

of view. It is doubtful whether he had an opportu- 
nity to do more than observe some of the natives 
at long range. 

The Mattaponi have not been conspicuous in 
literature. Po llard^ in 1894 quoted Dr. A. S. Gat- 

^ Pollard, J. G., The Pamunkev Indians of Virginia, 
Bull. 17, Bur. Amer. Ethnol., Washington, 1894. 

Fig. 19. — Mattaponi woman. 









schet as saying there were 35 or 40 Indians there. 
He also believed that they were a branch of the 

In 1907 Mooney^ took a census of the members 
of the band in his Powhatan survey, enumerating 

Fig. 21. — Mattaponi man and Chickahominy wife and children. 

40 souls and the following family names: AUmond, 
Collins, Custello (Costello), Langston, Major, Ried, 
and Tuppins. But now by birth and migration 
they have increased to about 75. Mooney's remarks 

1 Mooney, James, The Powhatan Confederacy Past and 
Present, Amer. Anthr., vol. ix, no. 1, 1907. 


concerning their condition and their occupations 
hold true today as well as then. The community 
is less in touch with the outside world than the 
Pamunkey, and so exhibits a somewhat more rural 
aspect of culture than the other groups, excepting 
perhaps that at Adamstown. There is much 

i ntercou rse 
between the 
M a 1 1 a p o n i 
and Pamun- 
key, several of 
the families 
having a com- 
mon origin. 

The ques- 
tion of priority 
is rather inter- 
esting here. 
The original 
families, that 
is to say those 
]\ I a 1 1 a p o n i 
whose members have not resided off the reservation, 
have dwindled to two individuals according to the 
assertion of these two themselves, namely, Nanny 
Tuppins and Powhatan Major (figs. 17, b; 20, b). 
The assertion is validated by tradition, for it seems 
that the population consists for the rest of descend- 
ants of the adopted Pamunkey families and, what is 
more interesting, several Indians from the Powhatan 

Fig. 22. — John Langston, Alattaponi. 



groups lower down toward the bay. Among them, 
for instance, the ancestor of the Allmonds is known 
to have been a native of the band of Powhatan in 
Gloucester county. The grandfather of this family 
came from near Gloucester Point on York river, 
nearly opposite Yorktown. Descendants of this 
band are said to be still on the spot and to have a 
separate school. I have not, however, visited them 
to verify the statement. 

Fig. 23. — Mattaponi girls. 


One of the most important of the hitherto little 
known and unrecognized bands resides below 
Aylett's landing, south of Mattaponi river, about a 
mile inland. The district is called Adamstown from 


the large number of the Adams family (fig. 20, a). 
They are citizens and have independent holdings 
near a large swamp which harbors considerable small 
game. On Captain John Smith's map of 1612 their 
location corresponds correctly with a village marked 

Fig. 24. — Mattaponi boys. 

on his chart as Passaunhick. i\rcheological surface 
surveys in the neighborhood evidence an extended 
and numerous original population, and the Indian 
blood of the inhabitants, their Indian tradition of 
descent, and consciousness of their Powhatan affili- 
ation, leave little room for doubt that this group of 
about 75 individuals exhibits what is left of the tribe 



belonging on the upper Mattaponi river. For this 
reason I have chosen, after consultation with Mooney 
and Chief Cook, to refer to them henceforth as the 
Upper Mattaponi band. It should be noted, how- 
ever, that even the oldest among them know of no 
specific name ever being applied to them, save that 
of Adamstown Indians. Even before the Civil War 
they were free. There is no remembrance of slavery, 

Fig. 25. — Part of the Mattaponi Indian town seen from the river. 

nor could we find any evidence of the people here 
having been ''owned" during slave days, either in 
local records or among the old white inhabitants 
whose recollection extended back to ante-bellum 
days. There is little more that can be said con- 
cerning the history of this small group. Yet con- 
siderable folklore and fragmentary ethnological infor- 
mation remain to be harvested. During Mooney's 
contact with the Powhatan enclaves he frequently 


had occasion to think of the Adamstown people, and 
in 1907 he noted their existence in the following 
terms, referring to the detached bands of Powhatan 
origin scattered through the tidewater counties: 

What seems to be the largest of these, according to 
Pamunkey information, resides on Mattapony river, about 
Aylett postoffice in upper King William county, the 
principal family names being Adams and Holmes. They 
are said to number about 40 in all, and to be in a very 
backward condition as compared with the Pamunkey, with 
whom they have little communication, although sometimes 
visiting the Mattapony.^ 

Having been recognized for many years as Indians 
by the state school authorities, the Adamstown 
people have ahvays been allowed a separate school. 
At present (1923) they are effecting an Indian 
organization like the other awakening Powhatan 

Through Jasper Adams, one of their leaders, the 
following list of families is given as representing 
those considered eligible for membership in the 
organization. It represents their present numerical 
strength. Of a total number of 77 persons, more 
than three-fourths bear the name of Adams, other 
family names being Hincher, Mills, Dundjie, and 
Acree. They claim that formerly the Adams family 
had the name Holmes, that a white man named 
Adams, just before the Civil War period, settled 

1 Mooney, op. cit., p. 151. 

2 Their organization was effected on July 4, 1923, with 
an enrollment of 77, under Jasper Adams as chief. 


with the band and gave his name and identity to 
most of the members. Joe Adams, who died in 
1920, at an age of about 78, is thought to have been 
capable of pronouncing some native Indian words. 
This old man wore his hair long enough to reach his 
shoulders, one of the marks of identity in the region 
by which the Indian descendants distinguish them- 
selves from negroes and mulattoes. 

It might be added by way of a suggestion as to 
their original identity that the Adamstown tribe 
may represent descendants of the Nantaughtacund 
unit of Smith's time, as Mooney thought of the 
Rappahannock, to whom the Adamstown people 
are partly related. 


On both shores of Chickahominy river, from its 
mouth to White Oak swamp where its waters rise, 
lived the Chickahominy tribe in apparently the most 
populated section of the Powhatan area (figs. 51, 69). 
Their descendants (figs. 26-36) occupy the same 
region, though they have no reservation. The 
Chickahominy headquarters, their first school and 
church, are at Samaria, a few miles from Roxbury 
in Charles City county. Recently some families 
have moved eastward toward the lower river, where 
the fishing is better, to the vicinity of Windsor 
Shades or Boulevard. Another Chickahominy 
church has been founded at the latter place and a 
school established. 

This tribe offers a problem in its political and social 


Fig. 26.— William H. Adkins, Chickahominy chief (died 1921). 
(Photo, by Bureau of American Ethnology.) 



Fig. 27. — Chief O. \V. Adkins, Chickahominv. (Photo, by Bachrach, 


aspects, which seem to have been somewhat different 
from those of the Pamunkey. That they were not 
completely unified with Powhatan, we have occa- 


sional testimony. Mooney^ summarizes the situ- 
ation briefly: ''The powerful Chickahominy, how- 
ever, although accepting him [Powhatan] as over- 
lord maintained their own home rule, and took an 

opportunity to 
put themselves 
under the pro- 
tection of the 

that this group 
formed a na- 
tion so remote 
from being 
subjects that 
they were even 
his enemies. 
Again he de- 
scribes them as 
a warlike and 
free people who 
paid tribute to 
Powhatan but 
who would not 
allow them- 

Fig. 28.— Mrs. Thomas Adkins, 
hominy woman. 



selves to be governed b> 
(chiefs) from him. 

In 1613 thev went so far as to renounce their 

Op. cit., p. 136. 


^JB . - 

:| ^^ .^^.^#1' 






Fig. 30. — Robert Bradby, Chickahominy of 
Windsor Shades, \'a. 

allegiance t o 
Powhatan, and 
appealed to the 
English, whom 
they called 
''shirt wearer," 
to allow them 
to use that 
name for them- 
selves, as a sign 

Fig. 31. — Chickahominy girls. 



















of affiliation.^ We also learn from Smith^ that 
the Chickahominy were governed by a body of 
priests and eight elders, and that their headman 
was called mangoap (which I venture to analyze 
as ''great man": mango, great, -ap {-ape), man) 

Fig. 34. — Chickahominy children, with native splint basket. 

in contrast to the Powhatan proper who em- 
ployed the term wirowance (probably meaning ''he 
is rich") for their chiefs.^ A number of other points 

^ Smith's account of Virginia in Tyler, L. G., Narratives 
of Early Virginia, New York, 1907, p. 310. 

2 Ibid., p. 311. 

3 Strachey, op. cit., p. 61. 


of minor differentiation might be mentioned, one 
being that the several Pamunkey native names of 
tribes are not known here. On the basis of the slight 
culture differentiation I have marked on the chart 
by a shaded line the Chickahominy apart from the 

proper. The 
still offer a 
field of inves- 
tigation. A 
number of 
economic sur- 
vivals and 
much folklore 
are accumula- 
ting as the 
basis for a 
monograph on 
the tribe. 
Some words 
/ supposed t o 
ttt^ -2? nu- ^ ^ ' be a relic of 

Fig. 3,5. — Chickahominy woman. 

the language 
have also been obtained to show that the Chicka- 
hominy have been about the most conservative of 
the Virginia bands. 

Mooney, in 1907, published the following list of 
family names of this tribe which does not need much 
alteration: Adkins, Bradby, Canada, Cotman, 



Stewart, Holmes, Jefferson, Jones, Miles, Swett, 
Thompson, Wynne. They numbered 220 at that 
time. In the following year the Chickahominy 

Fig. 36. — Mrs. W. A. Bradby, Chickahominy. 

effected a citizen Indian organization under William 
H. Adkins, and have since continued it to their 
advantage, strengthening their position and numbers 


as well as their tribal consciousness. In 1923 they 
numbered about 264, including the enrolled members 
of the Chickahominy tribe, under Chief O.W. Adkins. 
There are, however, 200 others, at least, whose claim 
of descent is valid but who have not formally an- 
nexed themselves to the tribal organization. In 
Strachey's time they were estimated at 300, prob- 
ably including only men. Their struggle to main- 
tain social independence has been intense during the 
last twenty years. They were even threatened with 
violence by their neighbors. It would all furnish 
material for an interesting chapter on contemporary 
Virginia social development. With the Pamunkey 
there has been some intermarriage, but no political 


The largest group of descendants of the more 
southerly Powhatan tribes is that which comprises 
the Nansamond. They reside at Portsmouth, 
Bowers Hill, near Suffolk, and in general about 
Dismal Swamp. Their name has hardly disappeared 
from the pages of history for more than a few years 
at a time. Captain John Smith gave them a place 
of prominence in his narrative, and a number of 
entries since his day in literature connect them 
closely with the past. In the last century they have 
lapsed in numbers and strength through mixture 
and dispersion, yet the number of those considered 
as Nansamond descendants must be about 200, 



according to J. L. Bass, their present chief. From 
William W. Weaver and Mr. Bass in 1907 Mooney 
recorded some information which he published.^ 
He noted that the men were mostly engaged in 
truck-farming and as sailors, and that they numbered 
about 180. 
According to 
most recent 
in March 
1923, the de- 
scendants or- 
ganized a Nan- 
samond I n - 
dian Associa- 
tion with 58 
enrolled mem- 
bers to coop- 
erate with the 
other organ- 
ized bodies of 
Indians in the 
state. Their 
principal fam- 
ily names are Bass (fig. 37) and Weaver, from whom 
are descended others: Bateman, Bond, Brady, Bright, 
Cable, Collins, Craigins, Gaylord, Gray, Green, 
Harmon, HoUoway, Howard, Jones, Okay, Osborn, 

Fig. 37. — Augustus A. Bass, Nansamond. 

^ Mooney, op. cit., p. 150. 


Porter, Price, Rowland, Sawyer, Scott, Sebastian, 
Simcoe, White, Wilkins, and Williams. 

I might add that a detailed study of the Nansa- 
mond is to be awaited with some interest. Until 
this is made one can only entertain a suspicion of the 
likelihood of some ethnological divergence from the 
Pamunkey and Mattaponi pattern, since the Nansa- 
mond are on the border of the North Carolina 
coast Algonkian sub-area. 

It may not be out of place to note that among the 
ethnological survivals here to be investigated the 
Nansamond preserve interesting information on 
bear-hunting, which is still pursued in Dismal 
Swamp, and wolf-trapping, of which tradition has 
something to reveal. They also offer the usual 
amount of surviving agricultural lore, and some 
other topics under material culture, connected 
with hunting, fishing, and the use of dugout canoes. 
The latter are still to be found in their possession. 


The northern divisions of the Confederacy are 
represented by descendants on Potomac creek in 
King George county, also in Wicomico county and 
by a fairly large body scattered through parts of 
Essex and King and Queen counties. The latter 
living south of Rappahannock river were considered 
by Mooney to be, in all probability, the remnant 
of the Nantaughtacund tribe; but they now bear the 
name Rappahannock (figs. 38, 39). It is possible 



that there are as many as 500 of this classification, 
though in 1923 the number forming the body known 
as the Rappahannock Indian Association embraced 
only some 200 who were carrying over the name and 
tradition o f 
the old tribe. 
They were led 
by Chief 
George L. Nel- 
son, who was 
very active in 
matters of In- 
d i a n recon- 
struction i n 
Prior to their 
they were not 
prominent in 
colonial liter- 
ature. The 
nock unit 
shows evi- 
dence of slight 
divergence in 
custom from 

the Pamunkey and Mattaponi, with whom there 
has been hitherto only an irregular contact. It is 
quite unnecessary in this place to give further de- 

FiG. 38. — George L. Nelson, chief of the 
Rappahannock and of the reorganized Pow- 
hatan Confederacy (1923). 


Fig. 39.— R. H. Clark, Rappahannock. 

tails of the re- 
suits of re- 
search in the 
history and 
ethnology o f 
this commun- 
ity as the sub- 
ject is treated 
in a separate 


A small 
group of fam- 
ilies, whose 
names are 
mostly New- 
ton and Green 
(figs. 40, 41), 
residue of the 
have inhabited 
Potomac river, 

represent what may be the 
Indians who are recorded to 
Potomac creek, an affluent of 
about eight miles north of Fredericksburg in 
Stafford county. We have not, however, clear 
proof that these descendants are actually of Potomac 
identity, although they now bear the name. They 
are not organized definitely, nor are their numbers 

^ Speck, F. G., The Rappahannock Indians of Virginia, 
Indian Notes and Monographs, vol. v, no. 3, 1925. 




Fig. 40. — Luther Newton of the Potomac band. 

known, except 
for a rough 
e s t i mate 
which would 
put them at 
about 150. 
Like most of 
the tidewater 
bands, they 
are engaged 
chiefly in fish- 
ing. Hunting 
has been dis- 
continued only 
within the 
last twenty- 
five years by some of them who followed it as a 
profession. At present the Potomac group still re- 
mains unstudied. As usual, considerable folklore 

and some eth- 
nological sur- 
vivals may be 
expected t o 
reward the la- 
bor of the pa- 
tient investi- 

An interest- 
ing legend is 
17 ii r-i f^u T3* T 1 related by the 

Fig. 41. — Girls of the Potomac band. -" 




older people. A version from the lips of Luther 
Newton, one of the more prominent men of the 
band, is as follows: 

One of the sons of Sir Isaac Newton was disowned by 
his father for social misdeeds. In consequence of his dis- 
grace the young man came to America to seek his fortune. 
While passing through the newly-formed settlements in 
Virginia, one day he found himself obliged to seek shelter 
and food at the home of a planter on the edge of the forest. 
As he rode his horse to the plantation gate a pretty little 
Indian girl moved forward, opened the gate, and held it 
for him to pass by. Struck by her beauty, he leaned 
forward, took a ''piece of gold money" from his wallet, 
and handed it to her, saying that some day he would come 
back and marry her. He then passed on his way. A few 
years later he found himself back in the same district and 
approaching the gate where this event had taken place. 
The Indian girl, now grown to young womanhood, was 
before him again in the yard of the plantation. She took 
from her dress the ''piece of gold money," and showing 
it to him reminded him of his promise. Thereupon he 
married her, and thus he became the ancestor of the 
Newtons of Indian blood and their relatives and de- 

This event was said to have taken place in Orange 
county, where the informant, to prove his story, 
asserts that a plot of land belonging to his ancestor 
still remains unsettled as to title. 

Several other bands of Powhatan descendants 
are waiting to be explored, about whom we now know 
practically nothing more than the mere fact of their 
location and family names. Some of them still have 



independent schools and do not 
colored people in school or church, 
of these groups so far known, but u 
nological investigators, is that divi 
what is called 

associate with 
i\Iost numerous 
nvisited by eth- 
sion residing in 



ern Xeck" be- 
tween the Po- 
tomac and 
rivers. Chief 
Nelson of the 
imagines that 
there may be 
500 individu- 
als in this re- 
gion and that 
their life is 
marked by ^^ 

some interest- Fig. 42. — Mollie Bladen, Accomack woman. 

ing economic 

conservatisms. They would be descendants of the 


The other group on York river is reported to in- 
habit the neighborhood of Gloucester Wharf in 
Gloucester county. The principal family names are 
said to be AUmond, Morris, and Langston. In fact 
their settlement bears the sobriquet of Allmonds- 
ville. Their actual identity is uncertain, though 


their location would correspond to that of the 
Werowocomoco. The Allmonds of Mattaponi are 
regarded as of this derivation. 

If we now recapitulate, the estimated results for 
1923 given me by the various chiefs show the 
population of the Powhatan descendants in Virginia 
to be as follows: 

Tribe Descendants When organized enrolled 

Pamunkey 300 Tribal, on reser- 125 (?) 

vation (1677) 

Mattaponi 75 *' (1658) 75 (?) 

Chickahominy . . 400 + 1908 264 

Rappahannock.. 500+ 1921 376 

Nansamond 200+ 1923 58 

Upper Matta- 
poni (Adams- 
town) 78+ 1923 78 

Wicomico (?)... 300+ (?) 

Potomac 150 + 

Hanover County 15 + 

Werowocomoco . 100 + (?) 

2118 + 


In dealing with the political life of the eastern 
Virginia tribes one must attempt first an abridg- 
ment of the voluminous details which have long 
been published concerning the Powhatan Con- 
federacy. Treatment has suffered from the disad- 
vantage of having been brought out in chronicles 
and papers not accessible betw^een one pair of covers 
to the general reader. The essential facts, however, 


bearing on the history and composition of this 
interesting Algonkian monarchy were assembled by 
Mooney in 1907.^ From his summary it appears 
that the tribes of this group, which has been appro- 
priately called the Powhatan group, held about 
8,000 square miles, or one-fifth of the area of the 
State of Virginia — in fact the whole tidewater 

Their western boundary was about the geologic break- 
line marked by the falls of the principal rivers at Great 
Falls on the Potomac, Fredericksburg on the Rappahan- 
nock, Richmond on the James, and Petersburg on the 
Appomattox, and thence following the Blackwater divide 
by Suffolk to the coast. Strachey, indeed, if not also 
Smith, makes Powhatan's dominion extend to the head of 
Chesapeake Bay, but there is abundant evidence in the 
early records that the Maryland tribes were enemies to 
those of Virginia and held themselves independent. Those 
on the eastern shore of \^irginia also seem to have been 
practically independent, as might have been inferred from 
the wide interval of water by which they were separated 
from the others; but as they spoke the Powhatan language 
and were within the Virginia jurisdiction, we may consider 
them with the Powhatan Confederacy. 

The twenty-eight Powhatan tribes enumerated in detail 
by Smith as existing in 1607, numbered, according to his 
estimate, about 2,385 fighting men; but as he omits from 
this count the people of Warraskoyac and of several other 
''king's houses" or tribal capitals indicated on his map, 
we are probably justified in making it around 2,500. 
Strachey, writing about 1616, makes it 3,320, but some of 
his figures are plainly too high. Taking the lower estimate 

^ Mooney, James, The Powhatan Confederacy Past and 
Present, American Anthropologist, vol. ix, 1907. 


we should have, on a reasonable calculation, a total popu- 
lation for the confederacy of about 8,500, or about one 
inhabitant to the square mile.^ 

Back of the Powhatan were other tribes of alien lineage 
and hostile to the tidewater people. On the upper Rap- 
pahannock were the confederated Mannahoac, and on the 
upper James the confederated Monacan, both apparently 
of Siouan stock and of ruder culture than the Powhatan. 
Southwest were the Nottoway and Meherrin of Iroquoian 
stock on the rivers of those names, and on intimate terms 
with the kindred Tuscarora of North Carolina. Farther 
toward the southwest, on the upper waters of the Roanoke, 
were the Occaneechi, probably also of Siouan stock. 
Beyond them in the mountains about upper New river were 
the Mohetan, or Moketan, for whom we seem to have 
but a single authority, of date 1671. The Richahecrian , or 
Rickohockan, who came down from the mountains in 1656 
and made bloody invasion of the lowlands, appear to be 
identical with the Cherokee ,2 and can not fairly be con- 
sidered a Virginia people.^ 

Following Jefferson, it is commonly said that the Pow- 
hatan Confederacy consisted of 30 tribes. This is approxi- 
mate, but not exact. Smith (1607), our first and principal 
authority, names 28 tribes, giving the fighting strength 
of each in his text but indicates on his map 36 "king's 
houses," or tribal capitals. The whole number of villages, 
large and small, within the territory of the confederacy, 

^ An interesting side-light is thrown on the question of 
Indian population in eastern Virginia by an estimate in 
1650 of 30,000 natives, one-fourth of whom were men, in 
that part of the colony lying south of Cape Henry. Cf. 
Peter Force's Tracts, vol. iii, no. xi, by E. W. (possibly 
Williams), London. 

2 Corrected to Yuchi by the findings of Swanton, Early 
History of the Creek Indians, Bull. 73, Bur, Amer. EthnoL, 
p. 189. 

2 Mooney, op. cit., pp. 129-131. 


as shown on the map, is 161. A manuscript authority of 
1622 says that the confederacy comprised "32 Kingdomes." 
Strachey, about 1616, gives a list of 32 chief jurisdictions, 
of which only about half are identifiable with those of 
Smith's list. He assigns, however, two chiefs to the 
Appamattock, four to the Nansamond, and three to the 
Pamunkey, thus reducing the number of distinct tribes to 
26. The census of 1669, by which time the natives had 
been wasted by more than half a century of almost constant 
warfare, has the names of only 11 of the Powhatan tribes 
noted by Smith, together with five others apparently 
resulting from shifting and new combinations of the broken 
remnants. In 1705, according to Beverley, there remained 
only six settlements in existence on the mainland and 
nine on the Eastern shore, besides a few scattered individ- 
uals, the whole numbering together some 350 men, or 
perhaps 1,170 in all. Thus within a single century the 
formidable Powhatan Confederacy had wasted to about 
one-seventh of its original strength. 

This result had been brought about by three Indian 
wars — in 1622, 1644, and 1675 — together with constant 
killings and destructions on a smaller scale; by a system 
of clearances and man hunts inaugurated in 1644 and con- 
tinued for some years; by smallpox and other epidemics; 
and by the general demoralization resulting from sub- 
jection to the conquering race. 

Following is the statement of the Powhatan population 
in fighting men, for the first century of colonization, as 
given by Smith in 1607, Strachey about 1616, the Virginia 
census of 1669, and Beverley in 1705. The discrepancy 
in the names of the various lists is probably due to the 
progressive combination of broken tribes under new names, 
the abandonment of old sites, and the occupancy of new 


Smith Strachey Census Beyerley 
1607 1616 1669 1705 

1 Kecoughtans 20 30 

2 Paspaheghes 40 40 

3 Chickahamanians, 

nearly 250 300 60 16 + 

4 Weanocks 100 100 15 

5 Arrowhatocks 30 60 

6 Powhatan 40 50 10 

7 Appamatucks 60 120 50 "not aboYe 


8 Quivougcohanocks 25 60 

9 Nandsamunds 200 200 45 20 

10 Chesapeacks 100 

Cassapecock ? 100 

11 Youghtanund 60 70 

12 Mattapament 30 140 20 

13 Pamaunkee, nearly 300 300 50 40 

14 Werawocomoco 40 40 

15 Chiskiack 40 or 50 50 15 

16 Payankatanke 50 or 60 

17 Cuttatawomen I 30 

18 Moraughtacunds 80 

19 Rapahanock 100 30 "a few 


20 Cuttatawomen II 20 

21 Nantaughtacund 150 50 

22 Wighcocomoco 130 70 3 

23 Sekacawone 30 

24 Onawmanient 100 

25 Patawomekes over 200 

26 Tauxenent 40 

27 Acohanock 40 40 

28 Accomack 80 

Additional "king's houses" on Smith's map: 

1 Warraskorack 60 

2 Orapaks 50 

3 Opiscopank (on Rappa- 


4 Pissaseck (on Rappahan- 


5 (on Potomac) . 

6 Uttamussak ^ From SmJth and Strachey references it 

7 Alenapucunt y appears that these were the three prin- 

8 Kupkipcock J cipal settlements of the Pamunkey, Xo. 13 

Besides the 18 names in Strachey's list which are 
identifiable with names on Smith's list or map, Strachey 
has also the following: Cantaunkack, 100 men; Munima- 
pacune, 100 men; Pataunck, 100 men; Kaposecocke, 400 
men; Pamareke, 400 men; Shamapa, 100 men; Chepecho, 


300 men; Paraconos, 10 men — a total of 26 tribal jurisdic- 
tions, estimated by Strachey to comprise 3,320 fighting men. 

In addition to the 11 names in the census of 1669 which 
are identifiable with Smith's list, the same census has also 
the following: Powchyicks, 30 bowmen; Totas-Chees, 40 
bowmen; Portobaccoes, 60 bowmen; Mattehatique (in- 
cluded with Nanzcattico, alias Nantaughtacund) ; Appo- 
matux (Westmoreland county and distinct from the tribe 
on the river of that name), 10 bowmen — a total of 16 
tribal communities with 605 fighting men, exclusive of the 
Eastern shore, which is not noted. 

Beverley gives definite figures only for the two or three 
principal remnant tribes, but says that all the Indians of 
Virginia together could not then raise 500 fighting men, 
including the Nottoway and Meherrin, whom he puts at 
about 130. This might leave about 350 for the Powhatan 
tribes, including those on the Eastern shore, or from 1,150 
to 1,200 souls.i 

The political texture of the group appears to have 
been that of an absolute and rather despotic mon- 
archy, made up by conquest rather than by feder- 
ation. The idea involved seems to have been an 
advanced form of the governmental spirit latent 
among Algonkian groups when they inhabit fertile 
and populous regions. Its like was produced on a 
smaller, though similar, scale in southern New Eng- 
land and again apparently on the North Carolina 
coast. It is most interesting to the student of abor- 
iginal American government that among the tribes 
of different lineage inhabiting the Atlantic coast, 
we meet with every extreme ranging from virtual 
anarchy, as among the Labrador Algonkian, through 

^ Mooney, op. cit., pp. 132-135. 


the village tribe, as in New England, the geograph- 
ical and dialectically determined tribes, illustrated 
by those of northern New England, the federal 
league of the Iroquois, the monarchy as we have it 
here in Virginia, and confederated nations, exhibited 
by the Cherokee and the Creeks. All of them 
appear, moreover, to be of relatively late origin, 
well within the period of Columbian discovery.^ 
Returning to Mooney, we may quote — 

When the English landed at Jamestown in 1607, the 
Powhatan Confederacy was a thing of recent origin. Ac- 
cording to Smith's statement, which is borne out by 
Strachey, Powhatan, who was probably not yet sixty years 
of age at that time, had inherited only the territories 
of Powhatan, Arrowhatock, Appamatuck, Pamaunkee, 
Youghtanund, and Mattapament, all the other tribes and 
territories being reported as his own conquests. The six 
original tribes occupied the territory extending some 25 
miles around Richmond, and comprised some 520, or about 
one-fifth of the approximate 2,500 fighting men under his 
jurisdiction at the settlement period. Of these, the 
Pamunkey outnumbered all the other five together, and 
appear to have been the original nucleus of the confederacy, 
which probably had its beginning about the same period 
which Hewitt assigns for the formation of the Iroquois 
league, viz, 1570. The essential difference between the 
two was that, whereas the Iroquois league was founded 
upon mutual accommodation and common interest, the 
Powhatan Confederacy was founded on conquest and 

1 Hewitt estimates the Iroquois league to have ger- 
minated as late as 1570, and this became the pattern for 
the Wabanaki Confederacy of subsequent date. Swanton 
assumes the Creek Confederacy to have dated back to the 
time of De Soto. 


despotic personal authority, and consequently fell to 
pieces with the death of the master, while the Iroquois 
league still exists with much of the old-time form. 

As an example of Powhatan's methods, we are told how, 
in 1608, for some infraction of his authority, he made a 
night attack on the Piankatank tribe, slaughtered all the 
men who could not escape, and carried off the women as 
captives. Some years before he had taken advantage of 
the death of the chief of the Kecoughtan to invade their 
territory, kill all who made resistance, and transport the 
rest bodily to his own country, finally settling them at 
Piankatank, which he had previously depopulated. In 
the same way, on the strength of an ominous prophecy, 
he had exterminated the entire Chesapeak tribe and 
transplanted a colony of his own people in the desolated 
territory. To make his position more secure, he placed 
his sons or brothers as chiefs in several principal towns, 
while he himself ruled in his own capital. From all ac- 
counts, he was greatly feared and implicitly obeyed, 
governing rather by his own personality than accord- 
ing to tribal custom. The powerful Chickahominy, how- 
ever, although accepting him as over-lord, maintained 
their own home rule, and took an early opportunity to 
put themselves under the protection of the English.^ 

Nothing could be added to this summary from 
existing documents, though a remark by Strachey, 
evidently overlooked by Mooney, is of considerable 
importance. Strachey noted that the native name 
of Virginia and likewise the term applied to the 
confederacy was Tseiiacomacoh? This appellation 
assumes much importance when attention is called 
to its resemblance to the Algonkian term for "long 

^ Mooney, op. cit., pp. 135-136. 
2 Strachey, op. cit., p. 29. 


house" or '' long ha.hita.tion' ' (kwen-akdmak^^')} The 
same term is familiar to us in the native name of the 
Iroquois league and also applies to the Wabanaki.^ 
As to the location of the tribes or towns listed 
above, there exists sufficient reference in the various 
colonial narratives for both IMooney and myself to 
have indicated the same with considerable accuracy. 
Our results are sent forth in the following table 
and the chart (pi. l). Besides marking the habitat 
of the minor tribal units, several culture margins 
are outlined on the basis of material which has now 
come to hand to be presented shortly. 

Tribes of Tidewater Virginia, with Chief Towns, Men- 
tioned and Located hy Mooney ^ 

Tribes Chief Towns 

Tauxenent About Gen. Washington, 

i.e. Mt. Vernon, Va. 

Patowomeke (Potomac) Potomac creek 

Cuttatawoman About Lamb creek on Rap- 

pahannock river 

Pissasec Above Leedstown on Rap- 

pahannock river 

Onaumanient (Onawmanlent) Nomony river 

Rappahanock Rappahannock river, Rich- 

mond CO. 

Moraughtacund Moratico river 

1 Algonkian phonetic mutations permit the change of 
k to tc, ts. The translation of the rest of the term is simple 
and clear after this consonant shift. 

2 Speck, The Eastern Algonkian (Wabanaki) Confeder- 
acy, Amer. Anthr., vol. xvii, no. 3, 1915. 

^ Conference and correspondence, 1920. 



Secacaonie (SecacawonI) 
Wighcocomicoe (Wicomico) 
Cut tat a woman 

Mattapoment (Mattaponi) 
Pamunkie (Pamunkey) 


Payankatonk (Payankatank) 







Warrasqueak (Warrasqueoc) 



Accomack (Accomac) 

Chief Towns 
Coan river 
Wococomico river 
Cowtoman river 
Port Tobacco on Rappa- 
hannock river 
Mattaponi river 
Romuncock, King William 


About Roscows (?), Glouces- 
ter — about opposite 
mouth of Queen creek 

Turk's Ferry 

Piankatank river 

Pamunkey river 


Chickahominy river 

Powhatan, James falls at 

Arrohatocs, Henrico co. 

Roscows, Elizabeth City co. 

Bermuda Hundred, Ches- 
terfield CO. 

About upper Chipoak 
creek, Surry co. 

Warrasqueak, Isle of Wight 


About Chuckatuck, Xan- 
semond co. 

About Lynnhaven river, 
Princess Anne co. 

About Cheriton (Cherry- 
stone inlet), Northamp- 
ton CO. 

Again let us refer to Mooney's study. The ensu- 
ing sketch of the momentous 54-year struggle 


between the advancing Virginia colonists and the 
resisting Powhatan natives, correctly and graphically 
covers the subject: 

The displacement of the native tribes began almost with 
the finishing of the first stockade. The English, being ill 
supplied with provisions and not yet in position to procure 
more by their own labor, proceeded to live off the country, 
making constant demands which the helpless savages 
were not strong enough to resist. For instance, a foraging 
party was sent to Nandsamund to procure 400 bushels of 
corn that the Indians had promised in order to save their 
canoes, which the white men had seized and were coolly 
chopping to pieces. It was now winter, and the Indians 
pleaded that their corn was near spent — they had already 
loaded the first visitors with as much as the boats could 
carry — and that Powhatan had told them to keep the rest 
for themselves. So, "upon the discharging of our muskets 
they all fled and shot not an arrow. The first house we 
came to we set on fire, which when they perceived they 
desired we would make no more spoil and they would give 
us half they had. How they collected it I know not, but 
before night they loaded our three boats." Continuing, 
they visited one town after another, but found all the 
people fled until they reached Apamatuck, ''where we 
found not much; that they had we equally divided," 
leaving the owners copper and other trinkets in payment. 

On another occasion ''we, having so much threatened 
their ruin and the razing of their houses, boats, and weirs," 
the frightened Indians promised, "though they wanted 
themselves, to fraught our ship and bring it aboard to 
avoid suspicion. So that, five or six days after, from all 
parts of the country within ten or twelve miles, in the 
extreme frost and snow, they brought us provision on their 
naked backs." 

The result of it all was that before the colony was two 


years old the principal Indian settlements had been seized 
by the white men, Powhatan had withdrawn from his 
place within easy reach of Jamestown to a remote town on 
the head of Chickahominy river, and killings and burnings 
had become so frequent that no Englishman was safe alone 
outside the stockade of the fort. 

Open war on a large scale was deferred, however, until 
1622, when Powhatan had been four years dead and his 
brother Opechancanough had succeeded to the Indian 
government. Pocahontas, for whose sake her father had 
restrained his own hostile feeling, had died before him. 
On March 22, 1622 (o.s.), Opechancanough began the 
war with a simultaneous and unexpected attack upon 
almost every settlement and plantation within the limits 
of the colony, by which 347 men, women, and children 
were massacred in the space of a few hours, most of them 
without the slightest chance for defending themselves, 
their lifeless bodies being mangled and abused in regular 
savage fashion. The Indians of the Eastern shore took 
no part in the massacre or the consequent war. The 
people of Potomac also remained friendly until driven to 
hostility by the massacre of a number of their people. 

Immediately on receipt of the news at home, orders 
were forwarded to the governor of the colony "to root out 
[the Indians] from being any longer a people. . . . Where- 
fore, as they have merited, let them have a perpetual war 
without peace or truce, and, although they have desired 
it, without mercy, too." Exception was made, however, 
''for the preservation of the younger people of both sexes, 
whose bodies may by labor and service become profitable." 
Women were not included in this exception, but were 
doomed with the men. To accomplish the extermination, 
instructions were given to starve the Indians by burning 
and spoiling their corn fields, to hire the neighboring tribes 
to bring in their heads, and to organize and keep con- 
stantly in the field bands of armed men to "pursue and 


follow them, surprising them in their habitations, interrupt- 
ing them in their hunting, burning their towns, demolishing 
their temples, destroying their canoes, plucking up their 
weirs, carrying away their corn, and depriving them of 
whatsoever may yield them succor or relief." Special 
rewards were promised for the seizure of any of the chiefs, 
with ''a great and singular reward" to any one who could 
take Opechancanough. 

In January, 1623, the Virginia council reported to the 
home office that they had anticipated instructions by set- 
ting upon the Indians in all places, and that by compu- 
tation and by the confession of the Indians themselves, 
"we have slain more of them this year than hath been 
slain before since the beginning of the colony." 

By this war the Indians were so reduced in numbers 
and means that for more than twenty years there was 
doubtful truce, when Opechancanough determined upon a 
final effort, although now so old and feeble that he was no 
longer able to walk or even to open his eyes without help. 
As before, the rising began with sudden surprise and 
massacre, April 18, 1644 (o.s.), along the whole border, 
but with the heaviest attack along Pamunkey river, where 
the blind and decrepit but still unconquered chief com- 
manded in person, carried about by his men from place 
to place. The number of w^hites killed in this second 
massacre is variously stated from 300 to 500, the dis- 
crepancy being due to the fact that the colony was now 
so well advanced and settlements spread out over so much 
territory that exact accounting was neither so easy nor of 
so much importance as in 1622. 

We have few details of this war, in which this time the 
advantage was so immensely on the side of the English 
that the result is summed up in the report of the Assembly 
in jVIarch, 1646, that the Indians were then ''so routed and 
dispersed that they are no longer a nation, and we now 
suffer only from robbery by a few starved outlaws." 


The same Assembly authorized other expeditions and 
the building of forts along the border. In the end, 
Opechancanough was taken and brought to Jamestown, 
where he was shot in prison by one of his guards. His 
successor, in October, 1646, made a treaty of submission 
by which the Indians agreed to abandon everything below 
the falls on James (Richmond) and Pamunkey (near 
Hanover ?) rivers, and to restrict themselves on the north 
to the territory between the York and the Rappahannock. 

In 1654, on occasion of another Indian alarm, a large 
force was ordered against the Indians on Rappahannock 
river, but no details of the result are given. In the next 
year the Indian lands were made inalienable except by 
permission of the Assembly. In 1656 a large body of 
strange Indians, called Richahecrians (possibly Cherokee), 
came down from the mountains and made camp at the 
falls of James river, apparently to start a friendly acquain- 
tance for trade purposes. A force of 100 men, however, 
under Col. Edward Hill, was sent to drive them back. 
Totopotomoi, chief of the Pamunkey, joined the expedition 
with 100 of his own men. The result was disastrous. 
The English were defeated, the Pamunkey chief and most 
of his men were killed, and Hill was obliged to make 
terms with the Richahecrians, for which he was afterward 
brought to trial by the Assembly. 

In 1675 came another Indian war, involving Maryland 
as well as Virginia, and known in history as Bacon's 
Rebellion from the fact that the leader of the Virginia 
volunteers acted in direct opposition to the colonial 
governor, Berkeley. The immediate cause was a series 
of small raids upon the Virginia frontier by Indians from 
Maryland, either refugees fleeing before the Iroquois, or, ac- 
cording to Beverley, instigated to mischief by the jealousy 
of New York traders.^ A force of 1,000 men, including 

^ Mooney later became convinced that these Indians 
were Susquehannock who had been driven into the moun- 


cavalry, was authorized against the Indians, and it was 
made death, with forfeiture of estate, to sell, directly or 
indirectly, powder or firearms to Indians. The tribes most 
concerned were the Susquehanna (Conestoga) and Doeg 
(Xanticoke ?) of Maryland, with the Occaneechi and 
others of western Virginia. The broken Powhatan tribes, 
under the woman chief, Queen Anne of Pamunkey, took 
no part in the hostilities, but suffered, as usual, in the result. 
In 1677 the war was brought to a close by a general treaty 
of peace with all the tribes in relation with the Virginia 
government, by which they submitted to the English 
authority and were confirmed in the possession of their 
tribal lands, subject each to an annual quit-rent of three 
arrows and a tribute of beaver skins. ^ At the same time 
they bound themselves to give immediate notice of the 
appearance of any strange Indians on the frontier, and to 
be ready to furnish a quota of men when required to 
serve against an enemy. The queen of Pamunkey, widow 
of Totopotomoi, already mentioned, was recognized in 
certain special dignities. The signatory tribes were the 
Pamunkey, Appamattoc, Weanoc, Xansemond, Xan- 
taughtacund, and Portabaccos — all of the old Powhatan 
Confederacy; with the X^ottoway, Meherrin, Monacan, 
and Saponi. 

This treaty may be considered to mark the end of the 
Indian period. Henceforth the dwindling tribes appear 
chiefly as appealing for protection of justice, the chronic 
grievance being trespass upon their reserved lands. From 
various references it is evident that Indian slavery was 
common even after peace had come, and this probably 
hastened the process of intermixture with the negro race. 
Their last appearance in treaty negotiations was at Albany, 

^ The Pamunkey continue to this day to carry their 
"tribute," as they call it, of venison, fowl, and fish to the 
Governor at Richmond. This is done about Christmas 
time, but it depends upon their ability to make a successful 
deer hunt. 


in 1722, when, through the efforts of the governors of Xew 
York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, the Iroquois made 
definite promise to refrain from further inroads upon the 
Virginia tribes, among whom were named the Nansemond, 
Pamunkey, and Chickahominy, with the Nottoway, 
Meherrin, and Christanna Indians, under which last 
name were included the remnants of the Siouan tribes of 
the East.^ 


Powhatan had a great deal of authority as chief. 
He assumed to such an extent the prerogatives of 
his ofifice that in no region known in eastern North 
America was there any stronger semblance to a 
native monarchy.^ Details are lacking as to his 
predecessors and the character of their government, 
yet it might be inferred that if any rigid inheritance 
ruling had characterized the oi^ce of Powhatan it 
would have been referred to by someone at the time, 
since much importance was attached to the concept 
of sovereignty in the minds of the English royalists, 
w^ho w^ere indeed greatly impressed, and we may 
imagine unduly, by the pomp of the Indian king. 
Certainly the Pamunkey did not maintain the idea 
of royal descent in the sense in which it was under- 

^ Mooney, op. cit., pp. 136-141. 

2 A recent bold and original evaluation of the events 
recorded in the contact between the Virginia Indians and 
the Colony from an Indian point of view and an inter- 
pretation of Powhatan as an emperor, will be found in 
William Christie MacLeod's The American Indian Frontier 
(The History of Civilization, ed. by C. K. Ogden), New 
York, 1928, chap. xiv. 


stood by the English, for Powhatan's mantle fell 
upon Opekankanough, supposed to be his brother, 
and not upon his sons who were well known. 

The line of succession following Opekankanough 
is not well enough known for us to reconstruct any 
scheme of transfer right. Nevertheless, from the re- 
corded fact of descent from Powhatan to his sisters' 

Fig. 43. — The so-called "Opechancano" mound on the Pamunkey 


sons, we might infer that it was of the usual east- 
central Algonkian pattern, often materially inherited 
and open to whatever development might be made 
of it. Powhatan accordingly seems to have been 
more of a demagogue than the usual Algonkian 
chiefs of history — Tecumseh, Pontiac, Philip, and 



Pamunkey succession from the time of Totopo- 
tomoi's widow, about 1677, is broken by a gap, 
as the Indians did not know how to write and their 
councils were not recorded.^ Referring to traditions, 
however, and written proceedings still extant among 
the tribal papers, we find the names of 

H. Langston Tazewell, elected life chief from 1850-1858 

Thomas Cook, elected life chief from 1858-1880 ^ 

Thomas Langston, chief from 1880-1890 

William Bradby, chief from 1890-1894 

Charles S. Bradby, chief from 1894-1898 

Theo. T. Dennis, chief from 1898-1902 

George M. Cook, chief from 1902- 

--^*'%%.. **' 



Fig. 44. — Pamunkey homestead— residence of Chief Cook. 

^See Appendix, page 453. 

2 Dr. W. Franklin Jones, of Richmond, states from 
records of June 5, 1865, that Thomas Cook and Thomas 
Sampson were reelected head men of the tribe. 



The present chief, George M. Cook, has been 
reelected continuously since. His authority is 
fairly strong, even surprisingly so in view of pre- 
vailing conditions. As in former times he is now to 
a marked degree the host of the village. Visitors 
are cared for by him; and sometimes, it may be 
added, his burden is considerable and his compen- 
sation meager, especially when they happen to be 

At present the Pamunkey elect their officers after 
a procedure which has come down through direct 
tradition. When the candidates for an office have 
been chosen, the name of one is mentioned before 
the council and someone is appointed to carry around 
to those present a handful of beans and a handful 
of corn grains. Each member present is given a 
bean and a kernel of corn. The ballot is then called 
for. If the member is in favor of the candidate he 
drops a kernel of corn in a hat which is passed around ; 
if opposed to the candidate he drops a bean in. The 
contents of the hat are then counted. If there are 
more corn kernels than beans, the candidate is 
elected. Should there be more beans than corn in 
the hat, someone else is nominated for election and 
the procedure is repeated. 

In 1894 Pollard recorded the same custom as 

As regards the internal government of the Pamunkey, 
the executive power is vested in a chief, while the legis- 
lative and judicial functions are performed by the chief 







together with a council composed of four men. The chief 
was formerly elected for life, but now both chief and 
council are elected every four years by vote of the male 
citizens. Their method of balloting for their executive 
officer is unique. The council names two candidates to 
be voted for. Those favoring the election of candidate 
number 1 must indicate their choice by depositing a grain 
of corn in the ballot-box at the schoolhouse, while those 
who favor the election of candidate number 2 must deposit 
a bean in the same place. The former or the latter 
candidate is declared chosen according as the grains of 
corn or the beans predominate.^ 


It is evident that in Virginia there was some form 
of social grouping determined on the mother's side. 
Yet the only evidence upon which this rests is a 
statement by John Smith attributed to Powhatan, 
as follows: 

His kingdome descendeth not to his sonnes nor children: 
but first to his brethren, wherof he hath 3. namely 
Opitchapan, Opechancanough, and Catataugh, and after 
their decease to his sisters. First to the eldest sister, 
then to the rest: and after them to the heires male and 
female of the eldest sister, but never to the heires of the 

In another place Smith repeats as follows: 

Powhatan hath three brethren, and two sisters, each of 
his brethren succeeded other. For the Crowne, their 
heyres inherite not, but the first heyres of the Sisters, and 
so successively the weomens heires. For the Kings have 

^ Pollard, op. cit., p. 16. 

2 Tyler, Narratives, op. cit., p. 115. 


as many weomen as they will, his Subjects two, and most 
but one.i 

We may use these remarks as far as reasonable 
speculation will permit. Swanton^ thinks that 
they have probability in their favor as bearing upon 
the maternal social organization in Virginia. It 
would have been unusual if the Powhatan tribes 
had not acquired such a grouping in some form 
through contact with the peoples on all sides of 
them having a maternal determination. Their near 
relatives, the Piscataway, and the Delawares, in the 
seventeenth century after the period of contact with 
the Iroquois,^ the southeastern or Gulf culture area 
in general, and the Iroquoian companies, are char- 
acterized by matrilineality. The whole question 
of matrilineal descent among the eastern Algonkians 
has still to be considered from an unbiased socio- 
logical view^point, it seems. 


The Pamunkey, wath a resident population of 
little more than a hundred, still preserve their 
national independence under the privileges accorded 
them by the State of Virginia almost two and a half 

ilbid., p. 52. 

2 Swanton, J. R., Social Organization of American 
Tribes, Amer. Anthr., vol. vii, 1905, p. 666. 

^ MacLeod, W. C, The Family Hunting Territory and 
Lenape Political Organization, Amer. Anthr., vol. xxiv, 
no. 4, 1922. 


centuries ago. They enjoy the unique distinction 
of being in all likelihood the smallest independent 
nation in the world. Pollard's synopsis of the 
political circumstances leaves nothing to be added. ^ 

In government the tribe is a true democracy, over which, 
however, the State of Virginia ^ exercises a kindly super- 
vision. The State appoints five trustees to look after the 
interest of the Indians. No reports of these trustees could 
be found on file at the office of the governor of Virginia, 
and their only function that could be ascertained to have 
been performed was the disapproval of certain sections in 
the Indian code of laws. Laws thus disapproved are 
expunged from the statute book. The tribe is not taxed, 
but they pay an annual tribute to the State by presenting 
through their chief to the governor of Virginia a number 
of wild ducks or other game. 

The chief and council are the judge and jury to try all 
who break the law, and to settle disputes between citizens. 
Their jurisdiction is supposed to extend to all cases arising 
on the reservation and which concern only the residents 
thereon, with the exception of trial for homicide, in which 
case the offender would be arraigned before the county 
court of King William county. The Indians claim, how- 
ever, that it would be their privilege to use the courts of 
the commonwealth of Virginia to settle such difficulties 
as could not be efficiently dealt with by their own courts., 
provided such difficulty arose from a breach of a State 
law. The writer does not know on what this claim is 

^ Pollard, J. G., The Pamunkey Indians of Virginia, 
op. cit., pp. 15-17. 

2 Pollard adds in a footnote: ''The writer has been unable 
to find any statute or judicial decision fixing the relation 
of the tribe to the State." Dr. Jones (corresp. Nov. 21, 
1928) calls attention to Acts of Assembly of Virginia, 
1893-94 (p. 975), covering tribal laws similar to those on 
the next page. 


based. As may be seen from the printed transcript 
(verbatim et literatim) of the written laws of the Pamunkey 
which follows, they impose only fine or banishment as 
penalties. There is no corporal punishment either by 
chastisement or incarceration. 

Tribal Laws 

The laws of the Pamunkey Indian Town written here in 
Sept. 25, 1887. 

The following Laws made and approved by chief and 
council men Feb. 18th 1886 for the Ruling of the Pamunky 
Tribe of Indians. 

1st Res. No Member of the Pamunkey Indian Tribe 
shall intermarry with anny Nation except White or Indian 
under penalty of forfeiting their rights in Town. 

2nd No non-resident shall be allowed to be hired or 
sheltered more than 3 months — and if anny person are 
known to hire or shelter anny sutch persons shall pay 
50c pr. day for every day over the above mentioned time. 
Amendment. Should sutch person persons be quiet and 
agreeable they may be hire 30 or 60 day under good 

3rd Anny person slandering another without sufficient 
evidence shall be fined in the 1st offence $5 Second $10 
and in the 3rd they are to be removed from the place by 
the Trustees chief and councle men. 

4th No nun-resident shall be taught in our free school 
except the concent of chief counclmen or any other Indian 

5th Anny party or person found guilty of stealing anny 
thing be longing to anny one else they shall pay the party 
for the amt. that are stolen from them and also shall be 
fined from $1 to $5. 3rd time they are to be removed 
from the place. 

6th If anny person shall depridate or Trespass on an- 
other ons premises and shall break down gates or destroy 


fences or anny other property shall be made to pay or 
replace all damages and if any miner are engaged in sutch, 
their parent shall be responsible for their acts and each 
and anny that are found guilty Shall be fined from $1 to $5. 

7th be it known that each road of Indian Town shall 
be 30 ft. wide and all person that has moved their fence in 
the road shall have 30 days to move them out and if they 
are not moved they are to be moved by the chief and the 
councl men and the expence paid by the Tresspasser. 

8th if anny citizen are notifide to attend anny meeting 
and fails to do so without sufficient excuse shall be fined 
from $1 to $1.50. 

9th be it known that all the citizens age 16 to 60 of 
Indian Town shall work on the road as far as red hill and 
anny member refuse to work shall be fined 75c and Jacob 
Miles to be Road Master and he to be paid $1 pr. year. 

10th Be it known that no person be allowed to swear 
on the high way of Indian Town and if so they are to be 
fined from $1 to $2. (Amendment) 1st ofTence 25 2nd 75 
3rd 100. 

11th Be it known that anny person or persons seen or 
known to be fighting upon the highways or else where of 
Indian Town in the Town the one found guilty of first 
breaking the peace shall be fined not less than $3. nor more 
than $5 dollars. 

12th Resolve that each male citizen of Indian Town 
owning a piece of land shall pay $1.00 pr. year or the value 
in produce to the Treasurer of Indian Town yearly for her 

13th be it known that the Hall Sein Shore of Indian 
Town shall be rented out yearly for the benefit of the 
Treasury of Indian Town and if anny person are known 
to set anny obstruction in the way shall be fined $5 in 
each offence. 

14th If anny person owning a piece of land and do not 
build and live upon it in 18m it shall be considered as town 
property and the person shall be allowed 20 days to move 






what they has thereon off; then it shall be considered as 
Town Property and the Town can allow any one else the 
same privelege under the above obligations. 

15th Anny person that become rude and corrupt and 
refuse to be submissive to the Laws of Indian Town shall 
be removed by the Trustees, chief and counclmen. 

16th Anny person that are in debt to the town and 
refuse to pay the amt. enoug of their property shall be 
sold to satisfy the claim. 

17th be it known that we shall have a fence law and 
it shall be 4 ft. high on a ditch Bank and 5 ft. high on a 
levil and the holes are to be 1 foot 4 in hole 2 ft. 6 in holes 
3 ft. 8 in hole and Remainder to the judgement of the fencer. 

18th An amendment to Resolution all male citizens of 
Indian from 18 year upward shall pay $1.00 pr. year and 
until the amt is paid they will not be given no land. 

Besides these written laws, there are others which have 
not been committed to writing, the most important of 
which relate to the tenure of land. The reservation belongs 
to the tribe as a whole. There is no individual ownership 
of land. The chief and council allot a parcel of cleared 
land of about 8 acres to the head of each family. The 
occupant is generally allowed to keep the land for life, and 
at his death it goes back to the tribe to be reallotted, 
unless the deceased should leave helpless dependents, in 
which case the land is rented for their benefit. The houses 
on the reservation are individual property and can be 
bought and sold at pleasure. 


Perhaps the most striking feature of all in the 
natural history of the modern Pamunkey comes 
before us in the survival of the controlled hunting 
and trapping rights: the custom by which each 
hunter in the band controls an assigned and definitely 


bounded area within which he enjoys the exclusive 
privilege of setting his traps for fur-bearing animals. 
Various phases of the practice of hunting and trap- 
ping within restricted boundaries have attracted 
attention among certain Algonkian tribes, to such an 
extent that the custom may be regarded as forming a 
more or less typical institution, with varied local 
associations, among the northern branches of the 
stock. Before discussing the significance and au- 
thenticity of the Pamunkey case, however, I shall 
first present purely descriptive material. 

The present diminutive Pamunkey reservation of 
about 900 acres contains two kinds of land. There 
is a dry arable tract of about 300 acres which is 
completely under cultivation for the usual crops of 
corn, sweet potatoes, and other staple crops of this 
part of Virginia's coastal plain. The district that 
interests us, however, is approximately 600 acres 
of virgin forested swamp. The usual arborescent 
growth of the freshwater swamp of this latitude is 
most strikingly exhibited over the whole area. The 
swamp-gum, the sour gum, the swamp oak, maple, 
magnolia, hackberry, poplar and their smaller 
associates, crowd every foot of the floor of this 
swamp, the only tree lacking to make it thoroughly 
coastal Carolinian being the bald cypress. The 
cypress seems to be represented by only a few 
scattered clusters and individual trees at several 
spots along the Pamunkey, though it is noticeably 
abundant beginning at the next river southward, 


the famous Chickahominy. When the ancestors of 
the Pamunkey, about 1658, chose to reserve this 
particular tract along the river for their final domain, 
it must have been with a clear vision of their future 
need of a territory where natural inaccessibility 
would provide a haven for game more or less per- 
manent and, to the agencies of the day, indestruct- 
ible. The swamp extends for a distance of from 43^^ 
to 5 miles along the river and encircles about four- 
fifths of the island-peninsula which comprises the 
territory where the Pamunkey descendants still 
operate their own form of political and economic 

Aside from its natural interest the swamp has a 
distinct historical background, having been from 
earliest traditional information divided into the 
same six hunting tracts that we find still recognized 
in the native land-laws of the tribe. These six 
tracts are separated by the intervals between certain 
well-known creeks, or lagoons, "guts" as they are 
locally termed, which wind their way some distance 
through the interior fastnesses of the swamp and 
open out into the river. In each of these tracts one 
of the hunters enjoys the right of pursuing his hunt- 
ing and trapping activity without competition, and 
free from trespass by his neighbors. These tracts 
and the lagoons are shown with their names and 
general contortions in a sketch by Paul Miles, one 
of the hunters, in conference with his associates and 
the chief. Such a chart, I may add, had never been 





VOL. I. NO. 5, PL. 


Approximate Distance 
Native Proprietors in 19eO-Sl : from River Shore 

1. Tecuraseh Cook 1 mile 

2. Paul L. Miles 

3. " 1 mile 

4. Ezekiel Langston 1} mile 

5. Tecumseh Cook I mile 

6. James Bradby i mile 

Reservation water-front 4} miles 


it r 






made before by them; accordingly they showed no 
little interest in preparing it. It is presented, 
after redrawing for reproduction, in pi. ii, the only 
addition to its original form being the lettering. 

No. 1. The lagoon and marshes at the mouth of 
Wash han creek, including the shore westward as 
far as the railroad bridge, constitute the hunting 
plot which we number one, known as the Wash han 
grounds. The name is supposed to come from 
''wash hands." On the eastern border the privilege 
of use stops at the edge of a white man's land. This 
territory has been for several years operated by 
Tecumseh Cook, a son of the chief. There is little 
more to be said of it, except that some high pine 
woods are included in it, and that raccoons and 
muskrats are the principal product. 

No. 2. An extensive grassy marsh, separated by a 
few hundred feet from the shore, is known as Dock 
or Docks island from the plenitude of dock, the 
favorite food of the muskrat, which grows on and 
about it. Trapping there yields an abundance of 
muskrats. The place is a resort of ducks in the fall 
and winter. These grounds are worked by Paul 

No. 3. Adjoining number one, beginning on the 
shore at the railroad bridge, hunting ground number 
three follows the shore around the big cove and 
landing place on the western side of the reservation, 
and takes in the waters of Great creek and Small 
creek. Great creek is its major lien. The division 


line on the southern and western edge is between 
Otter wallow and Turkey creek. Great creek is a 
fairly rich plot and yields muskrats abundantly to 
its proprietor. Ducks seek refuge in its murky 
channels and turkeys are frequently shot from roost 
out of the gum trees w^hich overshadow it. This has 
also been controlled for some years by Paul Miles. 

No. 4. Beginning with Turkey creek and taking 
in several productive lagoons, called Crooked, 
Spring, and Bills creeks, is a rather extensive forested 
swampy district terminating at Hanger's gut. It is 
considered more than a mile in extent from the river 
back to high land. This is worked by Ezekiel 
Langston, who is rewarded principally by an 
abundance of muskrats, raccoons, and otters; he 
supports himself entirely by fishing, hunting, trap- 
ping, and corn raising, as do the other four families 
whose men operate hunting grounds. 

No. 5. What is considered to be the largest 
ground extends from Hanger's gut to Swetts 
landing, taking in Hog-pen and Cornfield creeks, 
and Maple, Deep, and Raccoon guts. This is 
leased by Tecumseh Cook. 

No. 6. The small tract of timber swamp and 
marsh from Joe gut to Williams creek is trapped by 
Jim Bradby. 

There are besides a number of other families who 
live by the same industry which they ply at large 
for the want of specific territories. 

In one case at least among Algonkians in the north 


the custom was followed of marking off the bound- 
aries of inherited family hunting territories by 
birch-bark signs. But here in Virginia no indication 
of boundary signs occurs, for none is needed. The 
creeks dividing the plots are so well known that 
almost any boy of Pamunkey town can name and 
locate them. Furthermore there are no social 
associations involved in the possession of the hunting 
grounds, for they are not now inheritable, nor does 
tradition at Pamunkey point to an earlier different 
or more complicated situation. We shall probably 
never know whether or not the grounds were origi- 
nally inherited in families. Each year the six hunting 
grounds are disposed of by lease to any applicant 
in the tribe who pays the rental. The decision and 
right of assignment rest in the hands of the chief 
and council. Generally in spring the annual assign- 
ment is made. A somewhat similar case inciden- 
tally is reported for the Nova Scotia Micmac. The 
tracts lease nowadays for about forty dollars each. 
Often one hunter will acquire two grounds, yet 
sometimes all will not be rented, which of course is 
advantageous, for then the next year's supply of 
game is replenished after a season of repose. 

The proprietary privileges include the use of the 
old deadfall trap sets which are placed in the most 
favorable spots on all the grounds (fig. 47). These 
are the heavily constructed log-and-stake cabin 
deadfalls set in the muddy runways where muskrats 
and raccoons pass by to reach their feeding stations. 


Year after year these traps do their work, requiring 
little repair, and some of them may still be seen 
where they are known to have stood since the 
Civil War. That the stationary deadfalls are 

Fig. 47. 

-Pamunkey deadfall for raccoons and otters, 
manent set in Big gut. 

This is a per- 

aboriginal Pamunkey properties there is little doubt. 
The natives prefer them to the modern steel-traps 
because they do not rust, they never allow game to 
escape minus a leg, and they do not damage the fur. 
I shall describe them in more detail in another place. 



In short we meet here another case of the phe- 
nomenon exhibited widely among the northern 
Algonkians. The case at hand is no more elaborate 
and yet no less fundamental economically than what 
is generally the normal thing in the northern Algon- 



Fig. 48. — Pamunkey hunter rebaiting a aedJiciU on ohore of Great 
creek. Muskrats, raccoons, and otters are taken here. 

kian culture where hunting is dominant and where 

native institutions have escaped annihilation. The 

principal question arising is, How could it have so 

escaped in Virginia after several centuries of English 



Whatever skeptical argument may be brought 
forth with the intention of nullifying the importance 
of the Pamunkey circumstances in a study of Algon- 
kian economic institutions, we have to consider the 
following confirmatory facts: (1) The institution of 
the hunting territory is an inseparable factor among 
the Algonkians proper where the chase is vital. 
(2) We already have before us instances where the 
social pattern has been adjusted to a paternal exo- 
gamic type of society, as it appears among the 
Ojibwa, as well as to a maternal clan organization 
as among the southern New England tribes, although 
material illustrating the latter has not yet been 
presented in print. (3) The hunting territory, from 
its general distribution and its fundamental char- 
acter, crops out in different Algonkian areas under 
modifications which, however much they may 
diverge, are confined within such limitations as can 
be well understood through consideration of envi- 
ronmental factors. A certain deduction would seem 
to emerge then from our survey: that the hunting 
institution is a fundamental and an old Algonkian 
trait. Hence the case presented by the Pamunkey 
is a normal one except for some unusual facts, chief 
among which are that the Pamunkey have lost so 
much of their cultural background; that their habitat 
is so distant from other Algonkians possessing the 
feature in question; that the practice of agriculture 
was on an equal footing with that of hunting. It is 
furthermore somewhat puzzling that an Algonkian 


institution so weakened by the rival activity of agri- 
culture, even in early times, should have survived the 
decline of native culture so long. On most of these 
matters, however, there is some room for discussion. 

A search through the narratives of the early 
Virginia explorers fails to yield any definite informa- 
tion on the existence of restricted hunting grounds 
among the Powhatan tribes of the time. Yet the 
remarks of Captain John Smith on the hunting 
practices of the tribes of the low country might 
apply as well to the people of the lower St. Lawrence 
valley who carry on an annual movement from their 
settlements along the coast to their hunting grounds 
in the interior. 

While the following statement from Captain 
Smith is not explicit on the questions of inheritance 
and privilege, it at least alludes to a form of terri- 
torial subdivision which we recognize at once and 
may build upon: 

But this word Werowance which we call and conster 
[construe] for a king, is a common worde whereby they 
call all commanders: for they have fewe words in their 
language and but few occasions to use anie officers more 
then one commander, which commonly they call wero- 
wances. They all knowe their sever all landeSj and habita- 
tions, and limits to fish, fowle, or hunt in, but they hold all 
of their great Wero wances Powhatan, unto whome they 
pay tribute of skinnes, beades, copper, pearle, deare, 
turkies, wild beasts, and corne." ^ 

^ Tyler, Narratives of Early Virginia, op. cit., p. 115. 
The italics are mine. 


In a subsequent chapter on fishing customs men- 
tion will be made of the location rights which were 
recognized in the placing of weirs or fish-traps near 
the headwaters of the Pamunkey and Mattaponi 
rivers. This is one of the few instances where we 
find such regulations on the Atlantic coast, though 
they are fundamental among the northwest Pacific 
coast groups. Information coming from the Wa- 
banaki tribes of the northeast seems to point to a 
similar but weakened control of fishing stations in 
the salmon area.^ 

John Smith again (1612) says: ''They leave their 
habitations and reduce themselves into companies 
and go to the desert places with their families where 
they spend their time in hunting up toward the 
mountains by the heads of their rivers where there 
is plenty of game. For betwixt the rivers, the 
grounds are so narrow that little cometh there which 
they devoure not." ^ He adds the statement that 
they travel three or four days' journey from their 
habitations, which would carry them say 50 to 80 
miles from the Chesapeake bay line. We may 
imagine their best hunting grounds then to have 
been in the general region of the falls-line between 
the Piedmont and the Coastal plain, along the line 
from Washington to Richmond. Captain Smith 
refers in other places to the scarcity of game in the 

^ The writer's unpublished manuscript on the Malecite 
of New Brunswick. 

2 Tyler, op. cit., pp. 103-104. 


inhabited portions of Powhatan's country as due to 
the size of the native population. The present 
Powhatan survivors in Virginia reside well up toward 
the rising land in what would be near the western 
frontier of their habitat in the period when the 
Monacan tribes occupied the foothills of the eastern 
Blue Ridge. They evidently chose their best hunt- 
ing resorts for their final abode. I think it quite a 
plausible assumption, moreover, that certain Indian 
district names encountered today at many points 
along all the low-country rivers are reminders of the 
old hunting district names. 

In the survival of the reduced hunting-grounds 
arrangement at Pamunkey after the country was 
taken over by the English, the situation reproduces 
what has developed among some of the Ojibwa 
bands of the Lakes region. On the Gull Lake reser- 
vation in Minnesota, for instance, when some years 
ago the White Earth band was moved from its 
reserve and placed with the Gull Lake band, the 
resident population at Gull lake had to share its 
hunting lands with the newcomers. As a conse- 
quence the original Gull Lake districts which had 
been under inherited family proprietorship were, 
under the pressure of economic invasion, obliged to 
be reduced in size very considerably to provide 
hunting grounds for the aliens. It may accordingly 
be surmised that, with the occupancy of their exten- 
sive original domain by the English at the close of 
the seventeenth century and their assignment to the 


small reservation on the river, the Pamunkey recast 
their hunting arrangements to coincide with the 
reduced area, portioning the available land of the 
reservation into miniature hunting grounds based 
on the old plan. So it may be construed, at least 
in accordance with the natural likelihood of the case 
both from external and internal evidence. For the 
latter the following may be considered: 

If the above explanation of the change which has 
taken place be accepted as tentatively adequate, we 
can understand, by its aid, the reason for some of the 
present district names applied to prominent locations 
on Pamunkey river, as well as upon the neighboring 
rivers in Mrginia which were inhabited by tribes of 
close afhnity. The Indian names of these reaches of 
the river and of some of the points on its shores are 
still known in the neighborhood. These are ex- 
tremely interesting. Just below the reservation is an 
extensive marsh and forested swamp known as Co- 
hoke, a name of fixed usage applied both to the 
grassy marsh and to the swamp which is pictur- 
esquely ''Cohoke low-ground." Cohoke is clearly 
the original native district name. Although Cohoke 
is owned by whites, it still harbors an abundance of 
game which the Pamunkey regularly draw upon, 
especially the deer which they take by the drive and 
canoe, a method to be described later. Farther down 
on the north shore of the river is also Takhoman 
(tak^'^homan in the Pamunkey pronunciation). 
This is a farm on very fertile land where the 



presence of archeological refuse attests a former 
Indian family settlement. On the opposite shore 
of the river is Coosiak. Opposite the reservation 
is Rickahock, a name common to each of the four 
rivers of tidewater Virginia at some particular 
reach of its course. Below still on the northern 
shore near the railroad station of Romancoke is 
the region known among the Pamunkey by the 

Fig. 49. — Big bend in Pamunkey river; Uttamussak in the distance. 

name Uttamussak, an old name appearing in the 
records as Powhatan's ''temple" site and marked on 
Captain Smith's map of 1608. On Mattaponi river 
are similar locality names, and again on Chicka- 
hominy and James rivers. Some of those on 
Chickahominy river undoubtedly perpetuate Smith's 

My point, in short, is that these place-names 


may be reminders of old geographical designations 
for former hunting territories. District names 
also occur attached to the family hunting territories 
among the Indians of the interior Province of 

When it is learned that a form of the characteristic 
Algonkian hunting-territory institution is still in 
practice among the Pamunkey, we might well wonder 
what are the circumstances in which it could have 
been perpetuated among the Powhatan descendants 
until this day; for it is scarcely to be expected that 
successful hunting could be waged by an Indian 
band in a region like modern tidewater Virginia. 
Suspicion has accordingly already been expressed 
of its being a modern development in this particular 
instance. But if we examine probabilities I think 
we may be finally as much inclined to regard the 
whole thing here as a native survival as to regard it 
as being the expedient of more recent economic 

In considering further the occurrence of the 
hunting-territory institution in Virginia, it might be 
expected to have graded off to extinction in time and 
place so remote from the sources of contact with 
those regions and conditions which gave it existence 
and where it still flourishes as a phenomenon associ- 
ated with hunting and not with agriculture. In 
seeking the nearest area where even a partly agri- 
cultural Algonkian tribe exhibits the expected 
feature, we are at a loss to settle upon the direction of 


search. Northeastwardly the Massachusett and 
Narragansett of southern New England undoubtedly 
had their own modified form of the institution, since 
something akin to it was recorded by Roger Williams. 
This I have discussed as a proved case in a separate 
paper. ^ But w^estward toward the habitat of the 
Central Algonkians, where many features of material 
culture, and no doubt of social life, had analogies 
with those of the Powhatan group, we have a sur- 
prising meagerness of evidence that the territorial 
division was observed in any region south of the 
Ojibwa of Minnesota. Both Dr. Michelson and 
Mr. Skinner profess to have met with indications of 
its former provenience among the Sauk and Fox, but 
no more instances are forthcoming in spite of their 
intensive knowledge of this culture area. Further 
search may still reveal its memory, as I suspect will 
possibly be the case, or else it has gone by the board 
among the Kickapoo, Potawatomi, Menomini, and 
the other central divisions through the acculturation 
of economic agencies connected with agriculture 
more enduring and more forcible than the uncertain 
activities of the chase. 

Some of the dubious qualities of the case just 
mentioned are, however, answerable. One objection 
arising against the originality of the hunting grounds 
at Pamunkey, in particular, becomes weakened by 

^ Territorial Subdivisions and Boundaries of the Wam- 
panoag, Massachusett, and Nauset Indians, Indian Notes 
and Monographs, misc. no. 44. 


evidence directly at hand in Virginia. To attribute 
the inception of the hunting-grounds custom among 
the Pamunkey exclusively to an imitation of the 
whites is manifestly a surmise aimed in the wrong 
direction, for white hunters and trappers in colonial 
times, and now^ as well, in the Southern and Middle 
states are not known to have had the slightest 
knowledge of such a policy of operation. In the 
past, as well as now, they have been characterized as 
unconfined wide-ranging pioneers and fur-traders 
throughout. The remark might be added that only 
in the northern regions, where practically all the 
native tribes, both Algonkian and Athapascan, show 
the territorial division among hunters as a funda- 
mental trait of procedure, do we find white trappers 
adopting the custom. While it accords completely 
with the efficient arrangement of the Hudson's Bay 
Company and other legitimate and conservational 
trading concerns throughout the entire north, it 
would probably be wrong to deny that the policy 
was originally derived from the Indians themselves 
and built upon their economic methods. 

Hence the Pamunkey custom becomes worthy of 
being regarded as somewhat more authentically 
native in its conception, evidently being an old 
Algonkian heritage which, like other vagrant prac- 
tices recorded among the aberrant southern branches 
of the family, has earned, through its practicability, 
the right to survive two culture pressures — a 
southern agricultural contact in the purely Indian 


period of history, and later the holoclastic European 
culture impact. 

In respect to the antiquity of the hunting-grounds 
division at Pamunkey, we have very little docu- 
mentary testimony beyond the records preserved 
among the papers of the chief and council which I 
have consulted. These show decisively that the 
assignment of hunting plots, the same in boundaries 
as those now recognized, goes back as far as the early 
part of the last century. 

In the above account I have attempted to convey 
the impression of the whole development as progress 
was made in acquiring and coordinating the informa- 
tion concerning hunting grounds at Pamunkey. 
It might be added that my experience here was rather 
similar to that which I recall in working with the 
nomadic hunters of the far north. Some months 
elapsed before I became aware that regulations 
existed in the Pamunkey band. Slowly the matter 
came to light after several months' contact, during 
which time frequent hunting and trapping excursions 
had been made with one of the proprietors. My 
impression is at present fairly positive that the 
Powhatan tribes, like their Algonkian kindred farther 
north, operated their hunting industry on a general 
plan of segregation and privilege. So henceforth 
in our survey of American economic features the 
Powhatan culture area deserves to be indicated in a 
fairly well-established light as having possessed a 
sporadic form of the hunting-territory institution, 


to an extent certainly as positive as has been shown 
only recently for the northern California peoples. 
We may wonder if some vestiges may not yet be 
found among records pertaining to the Delawares 
beyond what MacLeod has produced. 


The marsh and swamp area of tidewater Virginia 
is extensive. For many miles both banks of the 
rivers are bordered by lowlands, which are inundated 
by the tides. In nearly all the rivers this occurs 
as far as 60 to 70 miles from Chesapeake bay. 
Some of these tracts are marshy flats covered with 
a growth of dock, rushes, and cattails. Others are 
overgrown with virgin forests of cypress, swamp oak, 
swamp gum, maple, and red birch. In the pictur- 
esque vernacular of the region such are called "low 
grounds." In some places the swamps extend con- 
tinuously from one to three or four miles following 
the windings of the river, and reach from a quarter 
of a mile to a mile and a half back toward the higher 
ground. The swamps provide cover for consider- 
able game, and it is in these fastnesses that the 
Pamunkey of today, as they did of old, pass much 
of the time in gaining a livelihood. The marsh 
flats provide feeding and roosting grounds for hosts 
of wild fowl which engage the attention of the 
Indians during the migration periods. 

The Virginia deer have survived as the last of the 
big game on the Pamunkey river, and some old deer- 


hunting practices have continued to the present 
time. The passing of the bear and beaver, however, 
dates back earlier than the memory of the living 
generations. Yet the bear lingers with surprising 
persistence in the Great Dismal Swamp on the line 
dividing Virginia from North Carolina. This im- 
posing wilderness, however, is too far from the 
haunts of the Pamunkey for them to know much 
about it in these days, though the Nansamond 
Indians, inhabiting its western and northern margins, 
have something to offer in respect to bear hunting. 
We may infer some similarity to have marked such 
practices among the different town-tribes of the 
Powhatan area. The bears of the Dismal Swamp 
hibernate for only a short period, if at all; some say 
for about six weeks. They secrete themselves in 
large hollow trees to sleep. In the fall and early 
winter the Nansamond seek to kill them because 
they are fat. The bears resort to the gum groves 
in the swamp to fatten on gum berries. They may 
there be heard at a considerable distance breaking off 
the branches. Then the hunters approach closer 
stage by stage, moving forward when the animal is 
unable to hear them because of the stir he himself 
is creating. The Nansamond, however, like to 
search for the hibernating bears, as, incidentally, do 
most of the Algonkians. This tribe undoubtedly 
has some reliquary customs and beliefs concerned 
with bear hunting still to be recorded. To my own 
knowledge they have the custom of cutting off a 


bear's foot and fastening it over the house door; 
one reason being as a luck-trophy. Another inter- 
esting hunting practice is remembered by Nansa- 
mond — wolf trapping by means of a pit. We turn 
back, however, to the characteristics of Pamunkey 
life; the other is for separate treatment. 

So much do the marshes and swamps engage the 
attention of the natives that they may be safely 
said to furnish the influencing factor in the economic 
life of the Chesapeake tribes. I shall have occasion 
shortly to refer to the Indians' familiarity with the 
conditions of mud which surround them on every 
side in their hunting and fishing occupations. The 
common geographical features of eastern Virginia 
really have to be understood before the ethnology 
of the tidewater tribes can be evaluated. It might 
be added that in the opinion of the Indians there 
has been a slight sinking of some of the river flats 
within memory. Today Cherrycook marsh, a few 
miles above the reservation, is a ''duck and fur" 
marsh, where at high tide a canoe can be shoved 
with a pole. This condition extends back some 30 
years. Estimating from facts obtained by Chief 
Cook, one concludes that about 1820 the same land 
was dry and was cultivated in wheat and corn by 
the father of Dr. John Braxton, a planter who owned 
this land. 

I might repeat that hunting is still a part of the 
daily occupation of most of the Pamunkey men, 
whether or not they be the proprietors of the rented 


portions of the swamp. The daily fare is derived 
largely from the chase in one form or another. In 
the fall, winter, and spring almost every day wild 
meat is consumed on the reservation. The hunters 
are abroad during the early morning hours either in 
the swamp to pick up muskrats, raccoons, or opos- 
sums, or on the river to get chance shots at ducks. 
Subsequent to these early-morning excursions they 
lie about the house and rest until nearly noon, while 
the women are dressing and cooking the meat. Then 
comes the noonday meal, the first real one of the day. 
Time has indeed brought little change in the eating 
habits of these Indians, and, we might also infer, in 
their domestic habits. 

The numerous and far-flung ox-bows of the tidal 
rivers bounding the marshes and swamps make the 
distances by river much greater than by land. For 
instance, the distance from Pamunkey town to 
West Point, which lies at the junction of the Mat- 
taponi and Pamunkey rivers, is nine miles by land, 
but following the windings of the river it is more 
than thirty. The windings of the Mattaponi just 
across from the Pamunkey are correspondingly 
tortuous. From West Point again to the Mattaponi 
Indian town it is twenty-three miles by river, but 
ten by land. The Mattaponi is navigable for small 
tugs, and a small freight and passenger steamer, the 
Louise, plies a route twice a week for forty-two miles. 
The configuration of this whole region is admirably 
shown on Captain Smith's chart of 1612. It is 


actually still serviceable for the navigation of the 
Mattaponi river. By comparison with recent Gov- 
ernment charts, every bend, every marsh, and even 
the location of the early village-sites marked on 

Smith's map 
can be ascer- 

In gaining 
their subsis- 
tence upon 
these exten- 
sive lowlands 
the ancient 
Indians are 
through tra- 
dition, with 
having effec- 
ted some phys- 
ical changes in 
the country 
which are not 
a little inter- 
esting since no 
other record of 
such achievements seems to have appeared in 
print. These are the canals, or ''thoroughfares," 
as they are yet called, some still in existence 
and pointed out as having been conceived and 
dug by the aborigines. The value of one of 

Fig. 50. — View in swamp along Pamunkey 
river site near Uttamussak, at Romancoke 


these ditches cut across some marshy neck where 
the river doubles on its course may well be 
appreciated by any one journeying by water through 
the country. For instance, at Cohoke 'Mow- 
ground," just below the present reservation, there 
is a short ditch cutting across a narrow strip of 
marsh, believed to have been done by the Indians. 

Fig. 51. — Scene in swamp hunting grounds on Chickahominy river. 

This thoroughfare shortens the distance not less 
than five miles in ascending or descending the 
Pamunkey river. It remains in use today, without 
modification or enlargement at the hands of the 
whites, according to local statement. There is a 
similar one at Hills marsh, lower down the river, 
opposite the site of Old Uttamussak where Pow- 
hatan had his sanctuary. This thoroughfare is 


marked on Smith's map. It is now much obstructed, 
though still open to canoes. In one of the accounts 
of his exploration Smith referred to this short-cut 
which he^thought to be of natural origin. 

It would be interesting to investigate these arti- 
ficial works, if all of them are such, to ascertain their 
origin. Similar ditches and log bridges, evidently 
the beginning of engineering enterprise among the 
Indians of the region, occur at other points in the 
Chesapeake area, and even on the Eastern Shore in 
the Nanticoke country. 

I have mentioned the Pamunkey necessity of 
knowing how to manage themselves when obliged 
to proceed over areas of mud. The Indian hunter of 
the Chesapeake country operates in a region where, 
without experience in judging the supporting quality 
of mud and knowing how to wade or crawl in it, he 
would be lost. When hunting, the Indians some- 
times become stranded on a marshy island separated 
from the shore by mud-bars; or, to secure game that 
has been brought down, it may be necessary to wade 
a hundred feet through mire of unknown depth. Or 
still, in making their hunting excursions in marshes 
or swamps at some distance from their boats, a 
lagoon, or ''gut," showing only a surface of brown 
slimy mud, may have to be traversed to reach one 
of the deadfall sets. Even to render aid to some 
less experienced sportsman, mired perhaps to the 
armpits, the art of self-navigation in mud is essential. 
The Indians recognize two kinds of mud — the 


moderately firm and the ''floating" mud. The 
former may be traversed by an experienced man if 
care is taken not to allow the weight of the body to 
remain more than an instant upon each leg, not to 
put the foot straight downward in the mud, but to 
proceed on flexed lower limbs, the weight carried on 
the shins. Should the mud be softer, of the floating 
variety, it may be necessary to advance prone on 
the belly in ''turtle fashion." Movement must be 
continuous lest the body settle too deep to be 
worked loose. Children at an early age learn this 
art. They help their parents retrieve ducks which 
have been shot out on the mud-flats. In short, 
the tidewater Indians throughout grow up with 
such experience at their elbows. 

Captain John Smith in his day observed the 
expertness of the Indians in traversing the mire:^ 

The Indians seeing me pestred in the Ose, called to me: 
six or seven of the Kings chiefe men threw off their skins, 
and to the middle in Ose, came to bear me out on their 
heads. Their importunacie caused me better to like the 
Canow than their curtesie, excusing my deniall for feare 
to fall into the Ose: desiring them to bring me some wood, 
fire, and mats to cover me, and I would content them. 
Each presently gave his helpe to satisfie my request, which 
paines a horse would scarce have indured : yet a couple of 
bells richly contented them. 

The Emperor sent his Seaman Mantivas in the evening 
with bread and victuall for me and my men: he no more 
scrupulous then the rest seemed to take a pride in shewing 

^ Tyler, Narratives of Early Virginia, op. cit., p. 58. 


how litle he regarded that miserable cold and durty pas- 
sage, though a dogge would scarce have endured it. 

Besides stalking the deer to kill them, the \'irginia 
Indians seem to have resorted extensively to the 
drive. One of the earliest references to the customs 
of these tribes is the description of a drive by the 
Pamunkey in Chickahominy swamp, on which event- 
ful occasion Captain Smith was surprised and taken 
captive. Three hundred men were supposed by 
him to form the company. We also hear of em- 
ploying fire in conjunction with the deer drive, 
a custom in itself suggestive of southern influence. 
The deer drive as practised by the Indian remnants 
in the state today, and their white neighbors as well, 
is as follows: 

The party of hunters is divided into two crews. 
One is to occupy boats at stations in the river where 
they are to wait for the deer to be driven out of the 
swamp to be shot, the other is obliged to plunge 
into the swamp with dogs and drive the game toward 
the river where the animals will be intercepted in 
their traverse. The method of selection, to be 
impartial, is as follows: To assign the crews their 
appointed tasks, the chief or captain holds in his 
hand as many sticks as there are men on the drive. 
Half of the sticks are shorter than the others. Each 
man then draws a stick. Those drawing the 
"shorts" may remain in the boats, while those 
drawing the "longs" are to form the driving party. 


It need hardly be added that the Pamunkey deer 
hunt is an exciting and noisy event. 

Deer are fairly abundant in the "low grounds" 
up and down the middle course of Pamunkey river. 
For instance, at one place just below the reservation, 
known as Cohoke "low-ground," in the winter of 
1922 when the river rose, more than thirty deer 
were seen in one day to swim the river, making for 
high land to escape the inundation of their haunts. 

An event of importance is the annual deer drive 
at Pamunkey when the hunters secure the venison 
which they carry to the Governor's house in Rich- 
mond in fulfillment of their treaty obligations to 
furnish yearly tribute in the form of flesh, fur, 
feather, and scale. The Pamunkey are justly proud 
of the fact that they have performed this duty 
without a break since the adoption of the treaty 
between them and the General Assembly. 

The episode of Captain Smith's capture and at 
the same time his description of the deer drive of 
that day are interesting enough to deserve repro- 

At their huntings in the deserts they are commonly 
2 or 300 together. Having found the Deare, they environ 
them with many fires, and betwixt the fires they place 
themselves. And some take their stands in the midst. 
The Deare being thus feared by the fires and their voices, 
they chace them so long within that circle, that many 
times they kill 6, 8, 10, or 15 at a hunting. They use also 
to drive them into some narrowe point of land, when they 
find that advantage, and so force them into the river, 


where with their boats they have Ambuscadoes to kill 
them. . . . 

In one of these huntings, they found Captaine Smith in 
the discoverie of the head of the river of Chickahamania, 
where they slew his men, and tooke him prisoner in a 
Bogmire; where he saw those exercises, and these ob- 

Hunting the '*sora" rail {Porzana Carolina Linn.) 
in the autumn has been an important occupation 
among the river tribes of Virginia from time imme- 
morial. In earlier days the birds appeared on the 
Pamunkey marshes in swarming flocks. Even now 
they are abundant enough to furnish a profitable 
pursuit to the natives during the periodic flights. 
The sora at these times cling to the brackish marshes. 
The old Pamunkey had, accordingly, a most inter- 
esting legendary belief, namely, that the sora arose 
from the marshes as metamorphosed frogs. And 
they know that the frogs develop from tadpoles. 
One of the reasons given for thinking the sora evolve 
from frogs is that the birds have partly webbed feet 
like the frogs. We may imagine, I suppose, that the 
nocturnal migrations of the bird have been respon- 
sible for ignorance of the actual conditions. A 
poetical fancy has associated the disappearance of 
the myriad croaking frogs from the marshes in the 
fall with the appearance of the myriads of birds 
during the season just following and filling the same 
places with their cries. They come about September 
20th. As to the method of killing sora the old 

1 Tyler, Narratives of Early Virginia, op. cit., p. 104. 


native practice has with little modification survived 
until today. The birds roosting at night in their 
marshy domain are invaded by the hunters in canoes, 
poled with the long paddle. The boats carry a 
beacon light at the bow to ''light up the marsh" 
and blind the birds so that they can be struck down 

Fig. 52. — Chickahominy boy with "sora horses" of iron, used as 
beacons in the bows of canoes when killing sora, or rail-birds. 

into the water from their perches on the stalks of 
the rushes or hit with the paddles as they fly in 
commotion toward the beacon. They are then 
gathered and piled into the boat. The beacon itself 
is an interesting object. Tradition says that the 
ancient sora beacon, which is called a ''sora horse," 
was an openwork clay basket. One of these, made 
about 1893, is figured by Holmes in his ceramic 


study. ^ In latter days the ''sora horse" or fire- 
basket has been constructed of iron strips (fig. 52). 
The specimens shown are from the Chickahominy. 
Pollard ^ says something about the custom of sora 
killing at Pamunkey in his day. 

In the autumn sora are found in the marshes in great 
numbers, and the Indian method of capturing them is 
most interesting: They have what they strangely call a 
"sora horse," strongly resembling a peach basket in size 
and shape, and made of strips of iron, though they were 
formerly molded out of clay. The ''horse" is mounted on 
a pole which is stuck in the marsh or placed upright in a 
foot-boat. A fire is then kindled in the ''horse." The 
light attracts the sora and they fly around it in great 
numbers, while the Indians knock them down with long 
paddles. This method is, of course, used only at night. 

The present Indians refer to sora hunting as 
''sorassin." This term is most interesting because 
it may be a corrupt derivation from the native 
Indian term. The final element {-assin) occurs in 
Massachusetts Algonkian wikwassin which denotes 
fishing by torchlight. The very name sora itself is 
a puzzle. Undoubtedly its origin too is Indian, 
though whether it comes from the tidewater Algon- 
kian term or from some other southern language it 
would be difficult to say merely through an attempt 
to etymologize the word. 

^ Holmes in Twentieth Ann. Rep. Bur. Amer. Ethnol.y 
pi. cxxxvi. 

2 Pollard, op. cit., p. 15. 



The Pamunkey, Mattaponi, and Chickahomlny 
hunt in the swamps along the rivers by stalking 
raccoon, opossum, and muskrat for their meat and 
fur, mink and otter for fur alone. Rabbits, wild 
turkeys, doves, quail, meadow-larks, robins, flickers, 
cedar-birds, snow-birds, and even the '* bull-bat" or 
night hawk are hunted and eaten. 

The business of trapping is, however, most inter- 
esting to us because the old-fashioned Indian deadfall 
is yet almost exclusively operated. The reason for 
its survival in competition with steel spring-traps 
is that the hunters have been convinced of the 

Fig. 53.— Pamunkey trap. Length, 33 in. (14/9062) 

superiority of the old-style fall which does not rust, 
which costs nothing, and which kills and holds the 
animal without tearing its hide or allowing it a 
chance to gnaw off its foot and escape. Raccoons, 
opossums, and muskrats are regularly taken in the 
stationary deadfalls, which are permanently built 


at places where the animals come to the water to 
wash their food or to forage. Some of the deadfalls 
pointed out today are known to have been con- 
structed not long after the Civil War. Their *' pens " 
are still intact. Again, many of the deadfall sites 
are known to have been occupied continuously since 
those days. Caked with mud at low tide, it seems 

that the timbers 
are almost inde- 
structible. Figs. 
47 and 48 show the 
situation of several 
of these along 
Great creek on 
hunting ground 
number 3 at Pa- 
munkey (see page 
315). Figs. 53 and 
54 show the plan of 
construction of the 
Pamunkey deadfall. It corresponds precisely with 
what is employed among all the river tribes of the 
tidewater country. 

Several outdoor practices surviving from the 
serious days of hunting and fishing portray the 
customs of old Pamunkey life. For instance, when 
overtaken abroad by night through any of the mis- 
chances which are apt to impede them while traveling 
on the river, they have resorted to the stems of wild 
honeysuckle for fire-kindling material. No matter 

Fig. 54. — Detail of trigger of Pamunkey 
trap (a, inside; b, outside). 



how wet the weather, and it is nearly always wet or 
humid in the Virginia low country, a blaze may be 
started with these stems. Their use corresponds 
to the highly inflammable birch-bark used by the 
northern Algonkians at all times in the camps. 
Some folklore clusters about fire-making. They 
have taught them- 
selves not to burn 
sassafras or grape- 
vine either indoors or 
out, the reason being 
that they fear some- 
thing will happen to 
their livestock, al- 
though what the con- 
nection is we are un- 
able even to imagine. 
The hearth must not 
be cleaned after dark. 
The fire-logs may be 
pushed together, but 
not turned, to make 
them flame. A crack- 
ling fire in winter 

denotes snow for the ensuing day. When soot, 
accumulating on the chimney-back, sparkles and 
glows, making what the white settlers called 
"chimney lice," the Powhatan say, "Fresh meat 
will be had tomorrow." This sign is believed in by 
all the Virginia bands. 

Fig. 55. — Dried fungus growth 
kept in the cabin by a Mattaponi 
as a charm. Width, 2h in. 


03 <1 

3 2? c3 

TO ■*-> 

^^ a; 

Tl cd n r^ 

3 ^ S Cd 



vO ^'^ 

^5 S'^ 
-(-> -!-> ex) 



The Pamunkey know well the old 
custom, so widespread among the Al- 
gonkians, of sharing the first game 
killed by a little boy among the father's 
friends. The boy moreover was not 
supposed to partake of the meat of his 
first game. The tusk of a boar is con- 
sidered worth preserving as a fetish 
to produce strength. The penis-bones 
of the raccoon and mink are also kept 
to insure luck to hunters, and the 
metacarpal bone of the deer serves a 
similar function as it does among the 
more northerly Algonkian hunters. 

The bows used by the Virginia tribes 
of early times are described as made 
of witch-hazel. At present this is not 
known to the descendants, though 
bows of hickory and oak, from three 
and a half to five feet long, are not 
uncommon. Information shows that 
the ''sap-wood," not the heart, of the 
white cedar was also used. Bows are 
sometimes square in cross-section, 
sometimes convex on the inside and 
flat on the outside, with pointed ends. 
Frequently the middle third of the 
bow staff is thicker than the outer 

Fig. 57. 

-Pamunkev bow and stone-pointed arrow. Length of 
bow, 59 in.; of arrow, 31 in. (10/6562, 6563) 








thirds, which form is called ''buzzard wing," 
suggested by fancied resemblance to a buzzard 
in flight. Arrowshafts of ''arrow-wood" cut 
from natural twigs, as of old, are still known. 

as well as others 
smoothed from 
eral specimens of 
feathering, two tur- 
used. Occasionally 
stone arrowheads 
upon such shafts, 
cord or a mulberry- 
way which cannot 
method of several 
mens of these 
figs. 57, 58. The 
from the right 
spread Algonkian 
Passing reference 

Fig. 59.— 

the cross-bow in ^^^^^^ 2!,^^^"^^ 

32 in. (9/7749) 

water area where 

split down and 
heart of oak. Sev- 
arrows show modern 
key-feathers being 
the Pamunkey mount 
found in their fields 
fixing them with a 
bark wrapping in a 
much differ from the 
centuries ago. Speci- 
weapons are shown in 
arrow is turned loose 
hand by the wide- 
_ primary release, 
should be made to 
the Virginia tide- 

its introduction by 
Europeans among the Indians of colonial times par- 
allels what happened northward as far as the Mon- 
tagnais-Nascapi. The Virginia Indian type of this 
curious toy is shown in fig. 59. It is reported among 
the mixed Indian groups as far south as the 


A tradition is 
related by the 
Mattaponi con- 
cerning the poi- 
soning o f ar- 
row h e a d s by 
their ancestors. 
It is said by 
Powhatan Ma- 
jor there that 
the stone ar- 
rowheads with 
a flat side, and 
especially those 
with corrugated 
edges, were in- 
tended to carry 
a poison made 
from rattle- 
snake venom- 
glands mixed 
into a paste. 
The corrugated 
arrowheads o f 
white quartz 
answering t o 
this require- 
ment are rela- 

FiG. 60. — Pamunkey 
warclub of the "ball- 
head " type (broken). 
Length, 23 in. (10/5684) 

Fig. 61. — j\fattaponi 
hafted stone tomahawk. 
Length, 20^ in. (9/7769) 


tively abundant in the tidewater region. While 
traditions of former economic properties should not 
be totally ignored, one feels nevertheless highly 
skeptical about their sources. 

A Pamunkey Turkey-hunt 

By way of diversion from the unenlivened proc- 
esses of pure ethnological description, a scene from 
the work of a day of one of the hunters (Paul Miles) 
will convey a picture of life at Pamunkey and help 
to give a background for an understanding of living 

A chilly northwest wind is blowing down the 
Pamunkey late in the afternoon when we leave the 
village facing the rays of the setting sun, and embark 
in Paul's canoe, paddling toward the mouth of a 
sinuous lagoon called Great creek. This flows out of 
the big swamp at the western end of the territory 
which the Pam^unkey still call their own. Its fast- 
nesses of swamp-gum, magnolia, and swamp-oak at 
high tide are flooded with the coffee-colored waters 
of the river. At low tide, which here drops between 
two and three feet, the turbid waters leave a tangle of 
roots and hummocks of indescribable muddy conge- 
lation in tussocks some eight or ten feet across, from 
the top of which rise clusters of gums, oaks, and other 
trees. Some of their trunks tower fifty to sixty 
feet above the muddy floor of the swamp, while a 
thicker but lower growth shuts off the swamper's 
view beyond a distance of twenty feet. In this 



memorable and gloomy vaulted fastness of malaria, 
tenanted only by the creatures of solitude, the 
Pamunkey hunters have pursued the chase for many 
centuries. Wild turkeys, the noblest of game 
birds, ducks, the bald- eagle, geese, deer, raccoons, 
opossums, otter, mink, muskrat have survived 
generations of keen trappers. Their ranks have 
ever been recruited from the flocks of birds and 
mammals which still make their periodic visits, one 
might almost say migrations, through the tidewater 
region. The great blue heron, the white young of 
the more southerly herons, and most numerous and 
omnipresent of all, the great barred owl are the 
permanent denizens of these dank recesses. When 
we leave the open river with its cheerful ripples 
lapping the sides of our canoe, and the gray clouds 
banked in the sky now to the east over the Chesa- 
peake, the ''great salt water" of the Indians, we 
convert our paddles into poles and poke our way 
over mud bars into Great creek, at each prod loos- 
ening a swirl of reddish mud which rises ever thicker 
through the opaque current and now and then send- 
ing ahead in muddy ripples some fish that is startled 
by our advance into his roily domain. A smell of 
saturated mud, drenched dead wood and moldy 
leaves comes to us as the gas bubbles rise to the sur- 
face when released by our shoving-paddles. 

As the tide is low, the whole floor of the swamp is 
carpeted in places with sodden sedge grass, while 
everywhere lie matted leaves coated with dried 


brown mud. Brown is the dominant color: brown 
are the tree trunks, marked distinctly to the high- 
tide level; brown is the glazed mud and ooze, and 
glassy water in here where no wind strikes it. 
Two or three bends of the lagoon carry us out of 
view of the river and the edge of the swamp. On all 
sides the drainways of the interior have cut through 
the floor, leading in slimy slopes to the edge of the 
water. Innumerable tracks of small animals are to 
be seen at each sluice — muskrat, mink, otter, with 
here and there one which the Pamunkey remarks in 
a whisper to be raccoon, and finally, farther in, those 
of turkey. The gun w^hich has rested in the bow 
is now loaded and taken in hand ready for work as 
the guide, now aroused to the importance of his 
task, plies his long oak paddle from the stern and 
forces the canoe over or around the mud-bars and 
ooze-shoals which are left nude and brow^n for three 
hours more before these inland tides will again cover 
them. ''Now if you see anything jum.p up, I want 
you to cut him down." '' I will," I whisper in reply. 
Only the drip of a dozen drops from the evenly sway- 
ing pole-paddle announces our entrance into the 
solitude. How busy the Pamunkey huntsmen are in 
their swampy domain, when at every bend we see one 
of their deadfalls for mink, coon, and otter, now 
soaked, mud-coated, and weed-clogged as they are 
exposed by the ebb tide. ''All right," I w^hisper 
again as the steersman gives a "shiver" from his seat 
in the stern, the Pamunkey way of saying without 


words, ''Watch closely, something moving!" A 
distant rustle of twigs on the right in a gum cluster is 
the first cause of alarm. I ''shiver" once in my seat 
in response and he turns the canoe with a silent shove 
to the right so as to throw me about facing the noise, 
lest in giving a sudden shot I upset the canoe. What 
will it prove to be, a deer aroused, or will a turkey 
burst away? A furtive rustle, a noisy flutter, and 
a white-throated sparrow pops into view with a 
piquant air; flutters loudly enough, it seems, to 
disturb the silence of the swamp, and we resume our 
stealthy passage into another arm whose slimy 
banks rise several feet on both sides. Here the 
creek is hardly more than fifteen feet wide. On 
both sides are the ski-'t^n^s, the "red berries" in 
the Pamunkey dialect, upon which the turkeys feed. 
On all the water-gums are showing small isolated 
berries. These likewise furnish food for the turkeys. 
While the Pamunkey have completely forgotten their 
native tongue, it is not surprising to find that in 
their natural-history and hunting vocabulary some 
last Indian words survive. 

Another "shiver" from the steersman warns me 
again of game detected. At the same instant a form 
moves on the horizontal branch of a monster gum- 
tree whose roots form a vault of mud-coated columns 
leading to its massive buttress. "Let him have it!" 
No, it is only the spirit of the swamp, the barred- 
owl, which now turns his ogreish head about and 
drops off to another rampike in noiseless flight. 


Five minutes later we hear his vacant whoo-oo 
farther off, and an answer from his mate, still more 
filmy and remote, filling the mind with the sense of 
hush and distance. The sound is indeed fitting to 
the exotic atmosphere of the swamp. Now, as it is 
nearing sundown, we look for a motionless pool to 
stop in and listen from, to harken for the roosting 
calls of the hens or possibly to hear the rush of wings 
as the great birds fly to roost on some limb fifty 
feet above, where they will crane their necks in all 
directions for about twenty minutes before contract- 
ing their great bodies to the smallest compass, to 
simulate the knots on the gums, and tuck their heads 
under wings to sleep like any secure barnyard fowl. 
This is the critical time. Every sharpened sense of 
both hunters and turkeys is keyed to action. ''There 
goes one!" A whisper and powerful ''shiver" 
convey the observation. Too far away; he has 
bolted for some inaccessible thicket and we see no 
more of him. 

Now it is to wait twenty minutes in our position 
while the Indian holds the canoe still by poking his 
pole-paddle into several feet of submarine mud. 
There is not a sound. Three or four birds fly high, 
probably woodpeckers; a distant hound's yelping 
proclaims another Indian somewhere on the move. 

It is now time to turn back, as darkness sets 
in heavily with a penetrating damp that will 
even defy the strenuous paddling necessary when 
we emerge again upon the open river. The canoe 


is swung around and the Indian poles her swiftly 
but silently along until the evening gleam on the 
horizon shows that we are nearing the edge of the 
swamp. We tarry and enter yet another draw to 
examine the high tree-tops for birds that may be 
roosted there, for at this darkening half-hour the 
birds are all off the ground. Several suspicious 
clumps turn out to be only knots, or gnarled light- 
ning-blasted branches, or clusters of dense mistletoe. 
Back to the river again, as the game is over for 
tonight. A crescent moon above the evening star 
is framed by bulky cloud masses. The wind has 
''lulled" and we make for the landing beach on the 
reservation shore where for generations Pamunkey 
hunters have likewise drawn up their canoes after 
having engaged in the same performance as that 
which we have just been through. 


In another method of turkey-hunting the Pamun- 
key resemble the eastern Algonkians in general; 
they call the game to them by imitating their cries. 
Although the deer are not known to be so dealt 
with, since they are attacked by the drive, the wild 
turkey being susceptible of imitation is successfully 
lured within range of the weapons of the concealed 
huntsmen. The turkey being possessed of gre- 
garious inclinations is skilfully lured by an instru- 
ment, called a turkey ''call" or "yelp," manipulated 




with the lips and hands. The article so employed 
is a section of the secondary wing-bone of the bird 
itself. Sections of bone about five inches long are 
kept for this service (figs. 62, 63), though not infre- 
quently a similar length of cane 
(Arundinaria) is substituted, and 
I have collected a specimen of the 
same consisting of a four-inch sec- 
tion of hollow ash twig — in fact 
a pipe-stem. 
Let us observe 
the procedure 
with John Den- 
is, a Pamunkey 
hunter and 
guide of long 

Toward eve- 
ning, going out 
into the oak and 
gum swamp 
where turkeys 
are known to 
be, a flock is 
finally flushed 
by the noise 
of advance. The hunter remains quiet, it may be 
for half an hour. Soon a call, or ''yelp," is heard 
from one of the birds of the dispersed flock calling 
the others together, and some of them answer. 

Fig. 62. — Pamun- 
key bone turkey calls. 
Length of longest, 5.4 
in. (10/5700, 5701) 

Fig. 63. — Mattaponi 
bone turkey calls. 
Length of the longest, 
3.7 in. (9/7746) 


The hunter then works noiselessly a few feet toward 
them, if possible. He crouches low behind the 
buttress of one of the big gum trees and tries a 
*'yelp" with his wing-bone tube, his weapon close at 

hand. If he 
gets an answer 
he tries again 
in a minute, 
tuning his 
''yelp" to 
serve as a 
means of 
drawing the 
bird to him, 
by the seduc- 
tive chirp re- 
peated three 
times to the 
birds, which 
means, ''Here 
I am; w^here 
are you? " Should he make the slightest break or mis- 
take in his tone, the whole flock would be alarmed 
and tumultuously fly off. The enticed bird, however, 
is completely deceived and steps forward, cranes its 
neck to one side, then the other, clucks, and peeks 
cautiously for a suspicious movement in the direction 
of the call. Now is the critical moment to render 

Fig. 64. — Pamunkey hunter demonstrat- 
ing method of calling wild turkey with a 
wing-bone call. 


the call-tone in dulcet pathos. Bang! Off goes the 
flock into the heart of the swamp again. 


The Powhatan tribes still adhere to some fishing 
practices worth mentioning. Until not long ago 
fish fences were employed. These were chiefly for 
sturgeon, but now this splendid fish is so scarce that 
whereas thirty years ago from three to six a day 
during July and August would be taken, now the 
record is three a season by six boats fishing the same 
period. Captain John Smith mentions 52 and 68 
being taken ''at a draught." ^ 

The Virginia explorers noted the great abundance 
of sturgeon, and we may imagine that the fish con- 
tributed largely to the abundance of food of the 
early Indians. The method employed in the con- 
struction of the fish-pond or "bush-net" is described 
by several of the men at Pamunkey and Mattaponi. 
At the entrance of the smaller creeks, or guts, branch- 
ing off from the main streams there was built a 
barrier of poles several feet apart driven upright into 
the ever-present mud at low tide when the water is 
out of the place. 

The "bush-nets" or "hedges" are well remem- 
bered by John Langston as having been worked by 
his father some seventy-five years ago. They were 
know^n and described among the neighboring Dela- 
wares and Nanticoke in early colonial times. 

^ Tyler, Narratives of Early Virginia, op. cit., p. 85. 


The ^'hedges" were made low enough in some 
instances so that the fish could pass over their tops 
at high tide. Then, as the water went out on the 
ebb, they would be barred from returning to the 
river (fig. 65). In the enclosures where the water 
might be from six to eight feet deep the hunters could 
shoot the impounded fish with arrows or spear them 
with iron-pointed prongs. In the deep holes the 
sturgeon caught by the "hedges" were hooked with 
a jig- hook. They would sometimes jump the 
barrier. ''Hedging" was more practicable near the 
headwaters of the rivers, frequently above tidewater. 

Each man had his own enclosure. They were 
generally about a mile apart. Two or three men 
would combine and work together as partners in the 
enclosures. The crews respected each other's rights 
of ownership. Then sometimes they would move 
their ''hedges" a mile or so up or down stream, all 
the crews shifting at the same time. The reason 
for this change is given as growing out of an idea 
that they could do better by it. A final word of 
description adds the information that the lattice- 
work of the "hedges" was so constructed as to slope 
upstream. I might add that similar weirs may be 
seen in the streams of the Cherokee country. In 
that region stones are available for construction and 
are used in the wings of the dam, the trap of slats 
being set at an opening where the fish are obliged to 
pass. In the Powhatan area, however, no stones 
suitable for such a purpose exist. 





-"^""^s^ ^r~^r^' 

Fig. 65. — Outline of plan of Pamunkey bush-fences on creek and lagoon 

to entrap fish. 

For several generations shad fishing has been an 
important industry among the tidewater Indians. 
It is, indeed, one of their principal harvests. Easter 
time is the height of the shad season with them. At 


Fig. 66. — Pamunkey fishermen returning from their nets. 

Pamunkey they have a belief that the shad arrive in 
the river at the time when the white violet blooms; 
hence they have the name ''shad-flower" for it. 
Drift seines are employed in the same way as among 
the white people. Day and night the seines are 
tended by the men who bivouac in camp huts of 
boards along the shore. For several weeks many of 
them are not home for a night's sleep. 

The seines at night are provided with board 
floats at each end carrying a lighted lantern. By 
this their position is known when it is thought time 
to haul them. Six or seven seines with their lights 
riding on the river, the seiners' campfire on the shore, 
and the somber wooded swamps on both sides make 
an impressive picture on an April night. The great 
barred owls call forth the quarter, half, and full 
tides, so the Indians of all the Virginia tribes say and 


believe. This saying can well be accredited with a 
basis of truth, for it is a rare hour when one or more 
of the resounding human-like series of whoops does 
not echo from the swamp, so loud that it rises above 
all other sounds of the night. 

Herring also form a spring catch of importance. 
These fish are looked for when the locust and the 
dogwood commence to bloom. Among not only 
the Pamunkey, but among the other river tribes, the 
Mattaponi and Chickahominy, the same natural 
signs are consulted for the timing of industry. For 
instance, they believe that eels may be more profit- 
ably caught in the full of the moon. Among the 
Pamunkey a fondness for catfish in the form of stew 

Fig. 67. — Mattaponi shad fishermen landing on the shore below the 



Fig. 68. — Pamunkey fisherman poling a boat to visit set-lines. Swamp 
hunting grounds in the distance. 

is increased by a belief that it stimulates sexual 
desires. Nothing could exceed their relish for it. 
The same belief is current among the oth r tribes, as 
well as the negroes, of the region. 

Although I have fished all the different methods 
with the three river tribes just mentioned and have 
persistently inquired among the older people, nothing 
more than the tradition of catching fish by poison 
has been encountered. The poisoning method so 
well known and widely distributed among the 
southeastern tribes, especially the Muskogi, may 
have been employed in Virginia too, but there is no 
definite allusion to it in the records. The reason for 



this may be found to have a basis in the physiography 
of the country. Being subject to a two- or three- 
foot tidal inundation, the rivers of the Virginia 
coastal plain do not furnish suitable permanent 
pools in which the fish poison may be distributed. 
Moreover, the fish supply is so abundant and varied 
that other methods are more expeditious and pro- 
ductive. A review of the poisoning practice, I 
believe, will show that its distribution in the south- 
east is limited to freshwater river regions. This 
topic is, at any rate, about ripe for investigation. 

Fish shooting with the bow and arrow is well 
remembered among the older Pamunkey and 
Mattaponi. The bow is the usual article; the arrow, 
the '* arrow-wood" shaft tipped with a ferrule point. 

Fig. 69. — Chickahominy fishermen hauling a shad seine. 


Fig. 70. — Pamunkey netting needles and net gauge. Length of /, 
12iin. (10/5686) 


No string, however, was in recent times attached to 
the arrow, as was the case among some of the more 
southerly people who relied upon the string to pull 
out the fish when struck. Captain Smith in 1612 
mentioned the natives shooting fish with arrows 
tied by a line.^ 

At Pamunkey the fish-hunter goes down to one of 
the ponds or tidal pools toward evening where he 
finds the ''cow fish" or ''stiff- backed perch" guard- 
ing their young so the other fish will not eat them, 
and shoots them from the bank. Fish-shooting is 
a typical southern practice and may be regarded as 
one of the southeastern acculturations of the Virginia 

While hand-made nets have been completely 
superseded by the nets of commerce, there is still 
abundant reason for the preservation of the netting 
technique in this region. Repairing or "hanging" 
is constantly required, and then there are some of 
the poorer fishermen who are occasionally obliged 
to make their own nets. From a number of the 
eastern tribal remnants the usual tongued netting- 
needle of the European pattern has been collected and 
studied by Hallowell. The netting implements at 
Pamunkey and Mattaponi (figs. 70, 71) are prac- 
tically identical with those of the eastern Algonkians 
now from North Carolina to Labrador. Those illus- 
trated here show the different-sized needles employed 
in making nets for use with varying kinds of fish, the 

^ Tyler, Narratives of Early Virginia, op. cit., p. 102. 


Fig. 71. — Mattaponi netting needles and net gauge. Length of a and 
e, 12 in. (9/7760, 7761) 



largest one for sturgeon nets, the others for shad and 
herring seines. The measuring blocks, too (figs. 70, 
e; 71, c, d), are in correspondence with those of the 
general area. I need only add the expected state- 
ment that the universal ''becket knot" is employed. 
While the use of seines has been the principal method 
in recent years, the Indians seem to think that it was 
introduced by the English.^ The so-called net- 

FiG. 72. — Pamunkey "set-line" for catfish. 

sinkers are not found on these rivers at all. This is 
significant. The Powhatan undoubtedly could and 
did make small nets for use in the hand or with pole 
handles. The net topic among the eastern Algon- 
kians is, however, under treatment at the hands of 

^ Nets for fishing made of native vegetal twine were 
referred to by the early explorers. See Tyler, Narratives 
of Early Virginia, op. cit., p. 103. 

2 Dr. Hallowell's memoir, The Problem of Fish-nets in 
North America, will appear in this series in the near future. 


A general practice of using set-lines (fig. 72) for 
catfish is followed by practically all the men on the 
reservations at Pamunkey and Mattaponi. The 
lines are of heavy cord, 250 to 300 feet long. At 
distances of 18 inches apart are tied the hooks on 
string leaders 12 inches in length. At intervals 

along the set- 
line stone sink- 
ers are tied. 
In this case 
just natural, 
rough, square- 
edged stones 
from the shore 
aretaken. One 
end of the set- 
line is attach- 
ed to a stout 
pole stuck into 
the mud bot- 
tom, and the 
other rides the 
surface tied to 
a bottle. By 
this means the set-line is kept in one place where 
the catfish are obliged to pass following the channel. 
The stone sinkers keep the line on the bottom where 
the catfish feed, and the floating end of the line allows 
ample play for the tides. The hooks are baited with 
cut-up minnows. Generally the bait is renewed 

Fig. 73. — Mattaponi net float of pine-bark. 
Extreme diameter, 6| in. (10/5739) 



every other day. At each average haul of such a 
line 60 to 100 catfish are taken. Oftentimes mussels 
attach themselves to the bait and are brought up. 
Then the fisherman takes them home to be made into 
stew. The fisherman's task is vigorous and varied. 
About every other evening he is obliged to haul a 
small minnow seine to re- 
plenish the bait. He takes 
up his set-line early in the 
morning, removing the cap- 
tured fish and rebaiting at 
the same time. 

It takes about two hours 
to ''haul and bait" the two 
set-lines that each fisherman 
operates. While the canoe 
tosses and lurches, when the 
wind is high and the waves 
are raised by wind against 
tide, it is difficult to hold 
it to the line with the hands 
employed on the hooks. So 
a nail is driven into the 

gunwale and the set-line run over it as it is passed 
along, keeping the canoe and line together while 
the hauling and baiting are accomplished. Like 
the Algonkians in general, the Pamunkey is essen- 
tially a river-man. 

The fishing customs of the Pamunkey should not 
be passed over without reference to an interesting 

Fig. 74. — Pamunkey 
fishline float. Length, 2.4 
in. (11/385) 


habit of some of the women in preferring to scale 
their shad with a stone scraper instead of a metal 
knife — a custom of survival from their stone age. 
Specimens obtained from old fish-houses and one 
still in use by the wife of Chief Cook are shown in 
fig. 76. Mrs. Cook had found hers at an old house- 
site. The claim is 
made that these im- 
plements remove 
scales without cut- 
ting flesh or fingers. 
During practically 
the whole year the 
tidewater tribes draw 
upon the river for 
their food supply. 
Shad, drum, roach, 
perch, gar, catfish, 
eels, formerly stur- 
geon, oysters, and of 
recent years carp and 
yellow catfish, a- 
bound in Pamunkey 
and Mattaponi rivers. In both bands there are 
sayings in reference to the river as a food 
supply. At Mattaponi it is said, ''The river is 
the Indian's smoke-house; it is open all the time 
except for a short period in winter," meaning 
when it is frozen. From Pamunkey comes also, 
''If the smoke-house doors get shut, I'll go away 

Fig. 75. — Fossil vertebra used by 
Mattaponi fishermen as a charm. 
Height, 4 in. (9/7742) 



for a few days," meaning, ''If the river freezes over 
with ice, I can't fish, so I'll go away for a trip." 
These are muddy rivers, while the Chickahominy is 
a clear-water stream, and so lacks catfish noticeably 
but contains black bass, which attract many sports- 
men. The men of all the tribes of the group, in 
fact, are constantly employed as fishing and hunting 


Fig. 76. — Stone blades used by Pamunkey for scraping scales from 
fish. The largest are 5i in. long. (10/5716, 5727) 

We hear through local tradition of occasional 
porpoises seen in the Mattaponi river, but no account 
is forthcoming of their pursuit. And it is also worth 
mentioning, perhaps, that the Indians here say that 
a whale actually entered York river and was seen 
off Yorktown. We may accordingly imagine that 
in the past the natives occasionally indulged in a 


whale feast upon some stranded monster, as do so 
many of the maritime Algonkians. 


The means provided by the Powhatan tribes for 
transporting themselves about in these marshy 
wastes was the dugout canoe. No other type of 
canoe can be ascribed to the southern Virginia 
culture area, even though Beverley in 1722 figured 
one of bark as though it were a product of the 
country. The only explanation of this error is that 
he credited the Virginia tribes with having what 
other tribes had, or that a bark canoe had strayed 
by trade into the tidewater area. The canoe in 
his sketch is labeled ''birch bark canoe." This 
would have been an impossibility for the Virginia 
tribes, since the canoe-birch does not range on the 
coast as a native tree much below New England. 
It was not unusual for early writers to describe 
Indian life in general terms and to apply the descrip- 
tion to special areas. Even the Jesuits occasionally 
did it. 

Turning now to the dugout canoe, we encounter 
an interesting field. Their manufacture and use 
have ended only with the last generation; so we have 
first-hand knowledge of details of make and use. 
Several hulks of abandoned and rotting dugouts are 
still known lying in the preserving mud in the spots 
where they foundered. Within recent years Terrill 
Bradby has made one, and within the last few 



years Paul Miles has hewn out the large one illus- 
trated in fig. 77. As many as six or seven dugouts 
belonging to fishermen, drawn up on the shore at 
the river-landing, are remembered by elderly men. 
The Pamunkey and Mattaponi dugouts were gener- 


Fig. 77. — Dugout canoe of the Pamunkey in course of construction. 

ally made of yellow^ pine {Pinus taeda), while at 
Chickahominy, where cypress abounds, they were 
made of that tree. 

Captain John Smith gives an account of canoe- 

Their fishing is much in Boats. These they make of 
one tree by bowing [burning] and scratching away the 


coles with stone and shels till they have made it in forme 
of a Trough. Some of them are an elne deepe, and 40 or 
50 foot in length, and some will beare 40 men, but the most 
ordinary are smaller, and will beare 10, 20, or 30 according 
to their bignes. Instead of oares, they use paddles and 
sticks, with which they will row faster then our Barges.^ 

At one time Powhatan exhibited to Captain Smith 
his great canoes capable of carrying forty men, in 

Fig. 78. — Dugout canoes in the Dismal swamp, Virginia. 

which they traversed Chesapeake bay to reach the 
territories of the Accomac on the Eastern Shore. 

Some native-made dugouts are still operated by 
travelers in the ditches of the Dismal swamp, in 
the old territory of the Nansamond. The form and 
cut of these boats are identical with those of the 

Tyler, Narratives of Early Virginia, op. cit., p. 103. 



Chickahominy craft and with the later types at 
Pamunkey and Mattaponi, having the pointed ends 
(fig. 78) . They are undoubtedly of aboriginal model. 
On these various specimens in eastern Virginia we 
base our information. 

As in other portions of the log-canoe area the 
Virginia Algonkians burned out the interior of a 
trunk of a tree and tested the 
thickness of the walls, as the 
charring and adzing progressed, 
by boring holes from the outside 
in to the depth of thickness de- 
sired. Then when the interior 
was hewn dowm until the holes 

were reached, it was known to be 
far enough. The holes were later 
plugged up to be water-tight. 
After the coming of Europeans 
the Pamunkey acquired iron adzes 
for hewing. One of these, found 
broken in the ground near an old 
house site on the reservation, is 
shown in fig. 79. 

The bottom of the dugout is 
nearly fiat; the interior has a 
flat bottom and vertical sides, 
project a little over the water-line. An interest- 
ing natural angle-measure was employed to fur- 
nish a pattern for the ends. This was a forked 
branch, having the right curve and flare (fig. 80). 

Fig. 79. — Old iron 
adz found on the Pa- 
munkey reservation. 
Length, 4 in. (11/ 

and the ends 


Laid on the ends of the unfinished dugout the 
pointing of the bow and stern was marked off from 
this pattern. The canoes of the older type are 
remembered as ''tray-heads," named, it is said, from 

their resem- 
blance to the 
native bread- 
tray or bowl 
(fig. 92). They 
correspond to 
the outline o' 
the dugout fig- 
ured so long 
ago by Hariot 
region. In la- 
ter times the 
bow was made 
sharper, more cut-under and scooped. We have a 
specimen of the old type of canoe made in recent times 
by Paul Miles, one of the hunters. Its dimensions are : 
Length, 18 ft.; width at waist, 28 in.; thickness at 
bottom, 23^2 in.; sides above water-line, 13 in.; 
capacity, five persons; weight about 460 lbs.; "tray- 
head" bow and short-cut stern. Compared with 
this specimen several of the cypress dugouts (fig. 78) 
from the Dismal swamp give the following figures: 

1. Length, 17^ ft.; width, 2 ft. 8 in.; width of flattened 
bottom, 18 in. 

2. Length, 17 ft.; width, 2 ft. 8 in.; width of flattened 
bottom, 18 in. 

3. Length, 15^ ft.; width, 2 ft. 2 in.; width of flattened 
bottom, 13 J^ in. 

Fig. 80. — Forked-branch pattern for 
making canoe bows. 



Fi G. 8 1.— 
canoe paddles. 
Sizes, 6 ft. 7 in. 
and 5 ft. 4 in. 
(9/7767, 7768; 

The Pamunkey pad- 
dled their canoes sitting 
on boards merely laid 
across the gunwales. 
The seats were necessar- 
ily movable, it is said, 
in order to allow the 
fisherman to move easily 
about and to shift his 
position without delay. 
The Pamunkey, w h o 
now make and use only 
the plank canoe, still 
use the movable seat and 
continue, as we shall 
now see, to work with 
the same type of paddle 
as that which was form- 
erly used w4th the dug- 
out. The paddle is a 
matter of interest and 
importance to the In- 
dian, for upon it de- 
pends his success and 
even his life, in the 
severe w4nds and rough 
waters of the fishing 
season. The paddles are 
long, from five to seven 
feet. They are gener- 
ally of red oak, ash. 

Fig. 82.— 
canoe paddles. 
Length, 7 ft. 3 
in. and 5 ft. 1 in. 
(10/5743, 5744) 


chestnut, or white oak, at Pamunkey and Mattaponi, 
of white oak, ash, or cypress at Chickahominy. 
The steering paddle is generally of the same length 
as the bow paddle, though some fishermen carry 
five-foot paddles in their canoes, with which the 
boys paddle when they accompany them. 

By the ''shouldered" paddle I refer to the type 
illustrated in fig. 82, in which the blade widens into 
shoulders. The grip is always plain. The Pa- 
munkey paddle generally has a stouter staff than 
the kind used at Chickahominy. The reason for 
this, given by the Pamunkey, is that their river is 
rougher and windier than the Chickahominy river, 
requiring a stouter paddle; by the Chickahominy 
the reason is given that the latter work more deliber- 
ately and quietly in stalking game. They say that 
the ''shouldered" paddle is noisier than the tapering 
form while it is in the water. When approaching 
or stalking game, the paddle is not lifted from the 
water, but the blade is noiselessly turned sideways 
at each stroke. The paddles are all very strong and 
pliable, admirably suited both for poling and for 
shoving in water or in ooze. They are, however, 
seemingly heavy, at least to hands accustomed to 
the light maple paddles of the northern Indians. 
We must nevertheless admit their superiority under 
the conditions involved. The Virginia canoemen 
take a long deep stroke, reaching quite far forward 
to "dig in and grip" the water. The lower hand 
rests on the leg to give more leverage power. It 


requires great strength to move and steer the heavy 
water-logged dugouts and plank boats now used. 
The canoeman never kneels, but sits on the loose 
board seat, with knees bent, or with one leg extended 
straight out. 

The bailer is a scoop made of one piece of wood 
with a projection forming the handle. 

Some rather interesting folklore is associated with 
the dugout. The slime which coats the pebble or 
mud beaches of the tidewater rivers permits the 
canoe, no matter how heavy, to be slid to the water's 
edge and launched again by two men when needed 
at low tide. According to tradition at Pamunkey, 
it is believed that in shoving out from the shore the 
canoe should be first turned ''sun-wise," or with the 
sun, that is, from east to west. After this formal 
direction in leaving the shore has been taken, the 
canoe may be turned in the direction desired. 

Like the northern Algonkians, the Pamunkey 
canoemen apprise one another of game observed by 
a sudden jerk of the body, which, communicated to 
the canoe, startles the other occupant of the boat 
to a sense of alertness. The Pamunkey call this 
warning a ''shiver." One "shiver" is a signal to be 
quiet and paddle gently, for a noise or a glimpse of 
something has been sensed. Two "shivers" mean, 
"Do you see it?" A "shiver" from the other 
hunter is an affirmative. (See pages 353-354.) 





A review of some agricultural practices of the 
modern Pamunkey shows but a few features of 
aboriginal survival. The corn now raised is the 

variety of com- 

Among the 
several hun- 
dred inhabit- 
ants of the 
Pamunkey and 
Mattaponi vil- 
lages there is 
not now a sin- 
gle log corn 
mortar in reg- 
t-^^'^ ^pP%. ?^^ ularuse. From 

ap^" some speci- 

Kmens previous- 
ly collected, 
however, and 
'^M from descrip- 
tions of those 

Fig. S3. — Pamunkey pounding corn in a 1^1 

wooden mortar. USed not SOlong 

ago we know 
that the wooden mortar and pestle of the Powhatan 
area corresponded to those of the Xanticoke. 
Mortars were of gum-w^ood, about three feet high, 
some with straight sides, others hewed narrower 



Fig. 8 4. — Nansamond 
hominy mortar. Height, 32 
in. (1/8754) 

Fig. 85. — Chickahom- 
iny medicine mortar, 
Size, 13 X 3| in. 

toward the bottom, with a disc- like base (figs. S3- 
85). In modern times the wooden pestle with an 
iron wedge inserted in the end and held by an iron 
ring was employed. There is little evidence forth- 
coming to show that here the heavy stone pestle, so 
common in Pennsylvania and New England, was 


used. Only one implement exhibiting the form of 
the stone pestle has been found on the Pamunkey 
reservation, a smoothed stone of the pestle type, 
ten inches long, which was used by the wife of the 
chief for cracking corn, hitting the kernels upon a 
plank (fig. 87). She stated that her mother had 

Fig. 86. — Chickahominy children cracking walnuts with stone mortar 

and pounder. 

employed it in a mortar. Aside from this tool the 
Virginia pestle seems to have been of the wooden 
form, though not of the long, heavy, double-ended 
type of the Iroquois, Delawares, and Cherokee. 

Baskets for agricultural use are seldom made, 
although at Pamunkey, Ezekiel Langston constructs 



them for his own use in carrying fish. His material 
is white oak, his weave is the common twill. The 
rimming is plain, as is show^n in fig. 89. At Mat- 
taponi, however, the girls make 
baskets of honeysuckle stems and 
their work is neat (fig. 88). But 
regarding the history of the tech- 
nique little can be said, except that 
it is suspiciously European in its 
details. We cannot be too sure that 
something like it did not exist in for- 
mer times, as many references to 
baskets of different forms in early 
days are encountered. Among the 
Powhatan remnants the Rappahan- 
nock have best preserved the basket 
industry, and this I have covered 
in a special report on that tribe. ^ 

The use of gourds as receptacles, 
so general among the southern 
tribes and referred to by the writers 
on early Virginia, has not been for- 
gotten by the Indian descendants 
there today. They were and still 
are occasionally put into service for 
seed containers and water cups, and 
one was found employed as a 
soap dish (figs. 90, 91). The Pamunkey and Rap- 
pahannock do not plant gourd-seeds, but strew 

^ The Rappahannock Indians of Virginia, Indian Notes 
and Monographs y vol. v, no. 3, 1925. 

Fig. 87.— Pa- 
munkey stone 
pestle. Length. 
lOi in. (11/382) 







Fig. 89. — Fragment of large Pamunkey fish basket. (10/5706) 

Fig. 90. — Mattaponi gourd cup. Diameter, 3 in. (9/7732) 

Fig. 91. — Pamunkey squash-rind dish used for holding soap. 
Extreme diameter, 7 in. (11/383) 


them about on rich soil, leaving them to find a root- 
ing themselves. They think it ''wrong" to sow 
them. Aboriginal habits survive in the employment 
of terrapin-shells (fig. 93) and fossil scallop-shells 
from the marl deposits (fig. 94) : articles remembered 
to have served generations ago and still at times 
used through sentimental feelings for the past, being 
kept as relics by some. 

Fig. 92. — Old Pamunkey gum-wood tray for bread. Length, 22 in. 


The corn, when gathered, is husked by the aid of 
the oak peg provided with a leather loop for the 
middle finger. Several specimens from Pamunkey 
and Mattaponi are illustrated, showing their con- 
formity (figs. 97, 98). It may be noted that among 
the various surviving Indian communities of Virginia 
slight differences are observable in the proportions 
and leather grips of these tools, yet at Pamunkey 
and Mattaponi they are alike. 

A number of agricultural superstitions and beliefs 
have been recorded among the half-dozen tribal 


Fig. 93.- 

-Turtleshell used by the Mattaponi for dishing turtle stew. 
Length, 9| in. (9/7748) 




Fig. 95. — a-d. Wooden stirring paddles; e. Wooden paddle used in 
pottery making. Pamunkey. Length of a, 14 in. (10/5688,5689) 


Fig. 96. — Mattaponi stirring paddles. Length of the largest, 14^ in. 
(9/7729-7731; 10/6566) 


Fig. 97. — Pamunkey (a-c) and Mattaponi (d-g) corn-husking pegs. 
Length, 4| to 6 in. (9/7759; 10/5703; 11/386) 


units in Virginia, and these 
I shall present separately 
under the topic of folklore. 


A great abundance of 
pottery fragments com- 
mands the attention of 
the observer who passes 
over the open ground 
almost anywhere on high, 
dry land near the river. 
The gathering of quantities 
of this material and its sub- 
jection to scrutiny as to 
frequency, location, and 
texture, permit us to draw 
a conclusion, making use 
o f Nelson's theory o f 
horizontal stratification, 
an ingenious discovery 
that will be of great ad- 
vantage to explorers every- 
where in America. On the reservation and in 
adjacent territory outside there is considerable 
variation in the prevailing types of potsherds. In 
eastern Virginia at large, the earthenware is of the 
coarse, pebbly, heavy, clay variety, often reddish in 
color, showing the so-called net-marks which have 
been identified and described by Holmes. This 

Fig. 98. — Mattaponi corn- 
husking pegs of red cedar. 
The larger is 6| in, long. 






<U > 


**- c 

O <:^ 
CJ o 

> a 

+-> o 
t« ^, 

>-. <3J 








ci O 
X! O 


? J 






Fig. 101. — Potsherds of hard, historic Pamunkey ware. 



Fig. 102. — Fragments of pottery receptacle handles from the~Pamun- 
key reservation, King William county, Virginia. (10/5714) 


ware abounds along all the inhabitable shores of the 
river and is abundant on the reservation. Yet at 
certain points of the reservation it gives place, in 
respect to abundance, to a thinner, light-drab ware, 
very smooth both inside and outside and otherwise 
characterized by an absence of incisions or im- 
pressions of any kind on the body. And besides 
these characteristics, the clay out of which the 
latter ware was made contains no pebbles and no 
grit, but, on the other hand, a large proportion of 
powdered shells. For convenience I shall label the 
reddish, pebbly, net-impressed material, of general 
distribution in the tidewater region, the Coarse 
Ware; and the unmarked, gritless, refined material 
which is so abundant on the reservation, the Smooth 

The matter of explanation becomes quite simple 
after a thorough survey of the tidewater region 
material has been made. A distributional question, 
a problem of material, one also of technique, develop 
under our gaze and finally resolve themselves before 
us into a culture-historical question involving the 
southeast, all of which again emphasizes the singular 
importance of pottery as a recording element in 
eastern archeology. 

First let us look over the material from the Virginia 
tidewater area. Everywhere here from the southern 
boundary of Virginia by actual observation, north- 
ward even through the Delaware valley, the pot- 
sherds are almost identical in material, decoration, 


^ — ' 



a; O 









and color. Holmes has appropriately called the 
ceramics of the tidewater "the Algonkian type." 
On the Pamunkey, Mattaponi, Rappahannock, 
James, and Chickahominy rivers it is all the same, 
the rims, decorations, and ingredients being prac- 
tically uniform within a certain range of variation. 
Net and cord impressions characterize this work, 


Fig. 104. — Pamunkey men digging clay on the river bank for 
pottery making. This is one of the traditional clay-holes of the 

while the so-called roulette impression, the stick- 
end indentation, and the ''comb" indented decora- 
tions are familiar. Incised-line patterns are also 
sparingly found (figs. 99, 100). 

This is evidently the older Algonkian ware. There 
IS little doubt of the homogeneity, even in minor 


particulars, of the early pottery of eastern X'irginia. 
It is not necessary here to figure or to describe this 
and its decorations further, even that which comes 
from the immediate Pamunkey region, since it has 
been so completely covered by Holmes's study. 

We find, however, in several places within this 
territory, a great abundance, in small centers, of 
the smooth ware. Its sporadic occurrence, its 
localized abundance, and some historical circum- 
stances, as well as the ethnological conditions 
among the present Indians of the region, point 
clearly to the conclusion that the ware of this type 
came into being after the natives had changed their 
economic hab'ts resulting from contact with the 

Let us examine some series of these smooth sherds 
from the places where they abound on the present 
Pamunkey and Mattaponi reservations. In the 
first place, the fragments from both places are exactly 
alike; hence the conditions of development in both 
loci are correspondent (figs. 101, 102). The ware is 
characterized by being very smooth, hard, and 
fine-grained, the clay free entirely from sand and 
grit, yet full of powdered mussel-shell. Its color is 
light-brown or uniform drab or gray. Xo incised 
or depressed decorations are found in the body. 
A few rims only show any attempt at embellish- 
ment, which then consists of fine impressions or 
dents, sometimes of fingermarks. Next is the most 
important thing: numerous angular bottoms, parts 














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t^ o 

o a 




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13 Vh 


^ >. 

(L» ctJ 

CO •"■ 




3 j:: 




u ^ 



^~ -^^Bg^^^^^^^^^^B 

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W "W ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^B 

CO 5^ 

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of curved handles or lugs, legs and knobbed lids, 
together with evidence of flat bottoms and the 
exclusive lipped rim style (fig. 102), are indications 
of a modification in form, bringing them into corre- 
spondence with the common European forms. ^ 
Here then is the secret, and, comparing this material 
with the historic Pamunkey ware, we are forced to 
conclude that the later archeological material is 
transitional, forming the link between the pre- 
European and the modern pottery. 

Having now established this chronological con- 
nection, we may consider in detail the modern ware 
of the Pamunkey and Mattaponi, interesting in a 
sentimental sense besides, because here are the last 
Algonkian potteries. 

Several writers have dealt with the method of 
ceramic manufactures of the Pamunkey in as much 
detail as was obtainable in a case where the industry 
was already early on the wane. 

To the descriptions of Pollard (1894) and Holmes 
(1899), I cannot add much. 

About the first observer, however, to mention 
Pamunkey pottery was Mason. He wrote: 

The most interesting feature of their [the Pamunkey] 
present condition is the preservation of their ancient modes 
of making pottery. It will be news to some that the shells 

^ The collections made for the Museum of the American 
Indian, Heye Foundation, contain hundreds of specimens 
of these. 


are calcined before mixing with the clay, and that at least 
one-third of the compound is triturated shell.^ 

Pollard, who has recorded the most complete 
details, says: 

Of their aboriginal arts none are now retained by them 
except that of making earthenware and "dugout" canoes. 

Until recent years they engaged quite extensively in the 
making of pottery, which they sold to their white neighbors, 
but since earthenware has become so cheap they have 
abandoned its manufacture, so that now only the oldest 
of the tribe retain the art, and even these cannot be said 
to be skillful. The clay used is of a dirty white color^ 
and is found about 6 feet beneath the surface. It is taken 
from the Potomac formation of the geologic series, which 
yields valuable pottery clays at different localities im 
Virginia and Maryland, and particularly in New Jersey. 
Mr. Terrill Bradby, one of the best informed members of 
the tribe, furnished, in substance, the following account of 
the processes followed and the materials used in the manu- 
facture of this pottery. 

In former times the opening of a clay mine was a great 
feast day with the Pamunkey. The whole tribe, men^ 
women, and children, were present, and each family took 
home a share of the clay. The first steps in preparing the 
clay are to dry it, beat it up, pass it through a sieve, and 
pound it in a mortar. Fresh-water mussels, flesh as well 
as shell, having been burnt and ground up, are mixed with 
the clay prepared as above, and the two are then saturated 
with water and kneaded together. This substance is then 
shaped with a mussel shell to the form of the article desired 
and placed in the sun and dried; then shaped with a mussel 
shell and rubbed with a stone for the purpose of producing 
a gloss. The dishes, bowls, jars, etc., as the case may be, 

^ Mason, O. T., Anthropological News, Amer. Naturalist, 
Boston, 1877, vol. xi, p. 627. 


^^mA ^^^ 


4i| A M 




Fig. 106. — Mattaponi (a, h), Pamunkey (c-g), and Catawba {h-V) 
pottery smoothing stones. (1/8776; 9/7753; 10/5720) 


are then placed in a circle and tempered with a slow fire; 
then placed in the kiln and covered with dry pine bark and 
: burnt until the smoke comes out in a clear volume. This 
'^•i?Mra*ken as an indication that the ware has been burnt 
sufficiently. It is then taken out and is ready for use. 
The reasons for the successive steps in this process, even 
the^ Indians are unable to explain satisfactorily. 

The collection above referred to as having been made 
for tlje Smithsonian Institution was put on exhibition at 
the World's Columbian Exposition. It consists almost 
altogether of earthenware. Besides the various articles 
for table and kitchen use, there are in the collection (1) a 
*'sora horse" made of clay, and already described under 
the head of mode of subsistence, and (2) a "pipe-for- 
joy," also made of clay. In the bowl of this pipe are 
five holes made for the insertion of five stems, one for the 
chief and one each for the four council men. Before the 
days of peace these leaders used to celebrate their victories 
by arranging themselves in a circle and together smoking 
the ''pipe-for-joy." The collection comprised also a 
"dugout" canoe, made of a log of wood, hollowed out with 
metal tools of white man's manufacture. Such canoes 
were formerly dug out by burning, and chopping with a 
stone axe. 

A mortar, used in pounding dry clay as above referred 
to, could not be obtained for the collection. They are, 
however, made of short gum logs, in one end of which the 
basin of the mortar is burnt out. The pestle accompany- 
ing it is made of stone. ^ 

Holmes dealt rather briefly with the matter. 
He wrote: 

Before we pass on to the ware of particular localities it 
may be mentioned that while the art practiced by the tribes 

^ Pollard, J. G., The Pamunkey Indians of Virginia, 
Washington, 1894, pp. 17-19. 


of this province when first visited by the English colonists 
was soon practically abandoned, at least one community, 
a remnant of the Pamunkey Indians, residing on their 
reservation on the Pamunkey river adjoining King William 
county, Virginia, was practicing a degenerate form of it as 
late as 1878. At about that time Dr. Dalyrimple, of 
Baltimore, visited these people and made collections of 
their ware, numerous specimens of which are now preserved 
in the National Museum. ^ A few of the vases then 
gathered are shown in plate cxxxvi. 

The modeling of these vessels is rude, though the surfaces 
are neatly polished. They are very slightly baked, and 
the light-gray surface is mottled with clouds of black. 
The paste lacks coherency, and several of the specimens 
have crumbled and fallen to pieces on the shelves, probably 
as a result of the slaking of the shell particles. Ornament 
is confined to slight crimping and notching of the rim 
margins. None of the pieces bear evidence of use, and it 
seems probable that in recent years the art has been 
practiced solely or largely to supply the demands of curi- 
osity hunters. The very marked defects of manufacture 
and the crudeness of shape suggest the idea that possibly 
the potters were really unacquainted with aboriginal 
methods. It will be seen by reference to the illustrations 
presented in this and the preceding section that this 
pottery corresponds somewhat closely in general appear- 
ance with that of the Cherokees and Catawbas.^ 

The problem, however, was not quite so simple as 
it appeared to the author of this monograph. The 

^ It may be well to note in addition that a single speci- 
men, a shallow bowl, is preserved of this collection in the 
Valentine Museum, Richmond, Va. 

2 Holmes, W. H., Aboriginal Pottery of the Eastern 
United States, Twentieth Ann. Rep. Bur. Amer. EthnoL^ 


Pamunkey industry undoubtedly had some relation 
to that of the Catawba, as he shrewdly surmised, 
and we shall soon see why. 

Since a few years prior to the commencement of 
the Civil War, when the railroad was first operated 
over the country between Richmond and West 
Point, opening eastern Virginian woods to modern 
enterprise, the Pamunkey have not manufactured 
earthenware for their own use. Mrs. AUie Page 
is probably the oldest woman now living at the 
Pamunkey village. She remembers in her girlhood 
how the women constructed clay pots, milk-pans, 
and stewing jars, and carried them to the trading 
stores in the country, bearing the crockery upon 
their backs in cloth sacks and exchanging it for 
small wares, groceries, or cash. The coming of the 
railroad strangled the Pamunkey potter's trade by 
placing within the reach of the countryside the tin 
and crockery ware of commerce. Nevertheless, 
Mrs. Page, Mrs. Cook, and Mrs. Margaret Adams, 
the latter formerly of Mattaponi, all remember well 
the details of the ceramic industry and are still able 
to fashion small pottery vessels and jars, though 
not w^th the adroit hands of their grandmothers or 
even their mothers. The particulars wh'ch I have 
to add to the processes quoted are the following: 

The living native authorities, whose names I 
have just mentioned, tell us about the process. 
The constitution of the clay material is about one- 
fourth powdered mussel-shell and three- ^ourths clay. 


The mussel-shells are gathered from the feeding 
grounds of the muskrat along the runways of the 
animal by the river. Quantities of the whole shells 
lie in such places, where they are easily picked up. 
The shells must then be burned, as the earlier 
observers correctly stated. But they did not 
describe the method, probably not having observed 
it. The procedure is interesting. The shells are 
placed in layers alternating with dry cornstalks, 
forming a pile the size of which depends on the 
quantity of shells. The combustible pile, the top 
layer being stalks, is then fired and allowed to burn 
out. The burnt shells are then pounded with a 
stone. Often, being very much softened, they may 
be crushed in the hands. Pollard correctly noted 
the stone pounder used by the Pamunkey in powder- 
ing the shells as well as the clay. The Catawba do 
not employ a stone, but a w^ooden pounder. Speci- 
mens of Pamunkey stone pounders for clay and shell 
were obtained from the old women (fig. 103). 

The clay is dug on the shore of the river near 
Bradby's landing. Fig. 104 shows some of the men 
at the old Pamunkey clay-hole digging clay as of 
old. The clay is selected to be free of sand. Then 
it is dried for a few days. Next it is beaten into a 
powder with the stone pounder. Then when the day 
of pot-making comes, this clay is made wet to the 
proper consistency, a matter to be judged only by 
the expert. Then on a smooth board the bottom 
is laid out in the form of a disc and the walls built 


up by adding thin layers of clay paste, or, if the vessel 
is a small one, by pressing it into shape from a soft 
lump of material. The coiling was not followed in 
recent times. This is a noteworthy fact. Next 
comes the smoothing, which, on the inside, is done 
with the edge of a mussel-shell (fig. 105). The 
outside, after being so scraped down with the shell, 
is rubbed with a smooth pebble, which process 
adds an irregular polish to the surface. Specimens 
of the rubbing-stones are not uncommon on 
Pamunkey and Mattaponi sites, and a few have 
been handed me by the same women previously 
spoken of (fig. 106, a-g). The Catawba use similar 
rubbing-stones and polish their pots likewise (fig. 
106, h-l). This also is noteworthy. 

Next comes the burning of the pots in the open 
fire-hearth (fig. 107). The Pamunkey cover the jars 
with corn-stalks and pieces of dry pine-bark to give 
them a light-gray color. The stalks and bark are 
piled over them to cover them in burning. Occa- 
sionally the pots are fired by allowing them to stand 
close to the embers. The same is done by the Ca- 

Among the few native words preserved to us at 
Pamunkey comes the name pandja for a vessel used 
in boiling fruit. Perhaps this word is not Indian, 
even though it appears like an Algonkian term. It 
may be a corruption of ''pitcher," yet it does not 
refer to an object of pitcher form. 

The smooth ware which finally usurped the style 


and technique at Pamunkey was known to the 
natives over much of the east. Sherds of the same 
texture and surface are found in the Cherokee region, 
among the Catawba, and all over the tidewater 

Fig. 107. — Pamunkey pottery firing in the open. 

Algonkian habitat from the North Carolina-Virginia 
boundary to the head of Chesapeake bay. We have 
specimens to illustrate this from the Chickahominy 
through the country to the Nanticoke area of 

It would be interesting to know from similar series 
of potsherds what the history of Catawba ceramics 



has been. The Catawba modern ware is not unlike 
that of the Pamunkey, in both texture and form, 
except for the mussel-shell tempering of the latter. 
Vases, pitchers, milk-pans, and pots are still made 
by the Catawba and have been treated by Har- 

FiG. 108. — Pamunkev earthenware dishes. The larger is 8 in. in 
diameter. (11/8125,8127) 

rington ^ and Holmes.^ One might venture to 
suspect, however, that the Catawba did have, in 
their more advanced southern ceramics, an original 
smooth ware. And this is further indicated by the 
recovery of the same hard, smooth ware on old 
house sites on the Catawba reservation. A dis- 

^ Harrington, M. R., Catawba Potters and their Work, 
Amer, Anthr., vol. x, 1908, pp. 399-407. 

2 Holmes, W. H., in Twentieth Ann. Rep. Bur. Amer. 
EthnoL, 1898-99. 


covery further confirming the supposition of rela- 
tionship was recently made when a broken earthen- 
ware pipe mold was picked up at Pamunkey, its 

form abso- 
lutely iden- 

.^A ^ ~m ^^^^^ with 

one used by 
the Cataw- 
ba today. 
W e know 
that about 
the time of 
the Civil 
, , T^. ' War there 

Fig. 109. — Pamunkev pottery bowl. Diameter, 

6| in. (10/5723) was an ex- 

change of popu- 
lation. Some 
Pamunkey fam- 
ilies went to Ca- 
tawba, inter- 
married there, 
and never re- 
turned.^ With- 
in the last 
years some of 
the Catawba de- 
scendants of 
these unions re- 

FiG. no. — Pamunkey cylindrical pottery 
jar. Diameter, 3 in. (10/5724) 

1 On the Catawba reservation in South Carolina, almost 
a third of the tribe traces its descent with pride from John 
Mush and other Pamunkey who formed this movement. 


turned to Pamunkey to sojourn there for a 
few years. 

There is little to say in discussion of Pamunkey 
and Chickahominy pot forms, those surviving today 
being for the minor services as ash-trays and catch- 
alls only. (See figs. 108-115.) 

Fig. 111. — Pamunkey pottery vessel. Diameter, 5 in. (11/8126) 


Fig. 112. — Pamunkey pottery cup. Diameter, 6 in. (11/8124) 



The question now facing us is one concerning 
priority. The resemblance in form and technique 
between the Catawba and Pamunkey manufactures 

Fig. 113. — Modern clay pot of the Chickahominy. Height, 3^ in. 


is unavoidably striking, though there are several 
points of difference that tend to destroy the impres- 
sion of an out-and-out borrowing. Positive resem- 



blances between the two in modern ware are those of 
function and form: to wit, handled pitchers, three- 
legged stew-pans with lids (fig. 114), the canoe-shape 
dish (fig. 115), the round shallow dish, the human- 
face pipe, and the four-stemmed ''peace pipe." 
Next, the exclusive survival of the smooth ware, 
rubbed with the pebble, 
might be suggestive of 
borrowing were it not 
for the fact of the arch- 
eological evidence of its 
ubiquity in the east. 
Moreover, the use of 
calcined mussel-shells 
in Pamunkey pottery 
and the absence of it in 
Catawba are distinctive 

features. Nor is it a question of lack of material, 
inasmuch as freshwater mussels are abundant in the 
Catawba country and the women employ the shells 
as scrapers for the inside when thinning down the 
walls of their pots. Historically, it would seem from 
tradition that the manufacture of quantities of 
pottery and pipes was carried on at Pamunkey before 
contact between them and the Catawba had been 
opened by the emigration of old John Mush and 
several of his family from Pamunkey to Catawba. 
This old man has been dead some sixty-five years and 
was over seventy at the time. This would make his 
birth about 1800. He went to Catawba and married, 

Fig. 114. — Model of Pamunkey 
stewing pan of day. 


then later brought his wife to Pamunkey. This 
could not have been earlier than 1820. But Mrs. 
Cook knows from her mother, who was of Mush's 
generation, that her grandmother made and sold 
pottery like that which is still known. Would it 
not seem plausible, then, to ascribe an early manu- 
facture of the smooth-ware to both surviving groups? 

Fig. 115. — Pamunkey canoe model of clay. Exact size. (1/8814) 

Pipes, — The Pamunkey of early as well as of late 
times was a busy producer of clay pipes. This is 
shown by the relatively large number of whole pipes 
and fragments which the soil of the small reserva- 
tion has yielded. With the help of some of the 
natives themselves, especially Miss Pocahontas 
Cook, I have picked up no fewer than eighty 
specimens, either whole or in part, all from the 
surface of the open ground. Of these, eight were 
entire. The recovery of a portion of the same 
form of pipe-stem from near the bottom of a 
refuse-pit furnishes evidence of the usual type of 
pipe occurring in as ancient a level of Pamunke}^ 


industry as we have knowledge of. The frequency 
ratio of pipes in these immediate Pamunkey environs 
is undoubtedly high, for, if we compare it with that 
published by Skinner 
for the Iroquois of 
New York, we shall 
see that Pamunkey 
y'elds an abundance 
of clay-pipe speci- 
mens not inferior to 
many other locali- 
ties in the east. 
Skinner mentions re- 
covering 191 pipes, 
whole and fragmen- 
tary, from an Iro- 
quois (Onondaga) 
site, and this he con- 
sidered evidence of 
extensive pipe man- 
ufacture, classing 
the Onondaga as 
preeminent among 
pipe-making groups, 
judged by existing 

remains. p^^ j^^ — Pamunkey earthenware 

In structure there pipes. Exact size. (10/5715, 5731) 

^ Skinner, A. B., Notes on Iroquois Archeology, Indian 
Notes and Monographs, misc. no. 18, New York, 1921, 
pp. 150-51. Among this large number of fragments 
Skinner found only four perfect specimens. 


is a close similarity among the pipe remains 
from the whole tidewater district. The bowls 
are small, the walls thin, and the clay is very 
fine and lacks the grit and pebbles of the older 

Fig. 117. 

-Pamunkey earthenware pipes. Exact size. 
(10/6583, 6584, 5730) 

pottery texture. The stems are continuous with 
the bowl at an angle of about 45 degrees — the so- 
called Atlantic coast ''type" or elbow clay pipe of 
McGuire.^ Then there is the ''tubular" form in 

1 McGuire, J. D., Pipes and Smoking Customs of the 
American Aborigines, Washington, 1899, pp. 608-09. 
McGuire mentions the occurrence of the same form from 
Hudson river to Maryland and perhaps farther south. See 
also Holmes in 20th Report Bur. Amer. Ethn., p. 158, pi. cxlii. 


which the bowl is an enlargement of the stem 
standing at a slight angle to it. The proportion of 
the types is about one tubular form to ten of elbow 

Fig. 118. 

-Fragments of Pamunkey pipes. 
(10/5715, 5762) 

Width of h at rim, 

In structure they are generally fine. Bowl and 
stem are often generously ornamented with encircling 
line indentations which appear to have been placed 
upon the clay with either a fine comb or the serrated 
edge of a clam-shell. Figs. 116-121 show whole and 
reconstructed pipes found at Pamunkey. The series 
illustrated is actually typical and may be used as a 
standard for comparison with pipes of other areas 
and for tracing distribution. I venture even to 
say that so typical are these forms and ornamen- 
tations for Pamunkey, and so abundant are the 
evidences of persistent industry on the reservation, 
that whenever we find a closely similar pipe in the 


Fig. 119. — Fragments of Pamunkey earthenware pipes. Length of 
a, 2\ in. (10/5715, 6585; 11/376, 8146) 



lower Chesapeake tidewater area it may be traced to 
Pamunkey authorship. Such, for instance, I believe 
is the explanation in the case of a decorated pipe 
figured by Holmes as coming from a point in the 
Chesapeake-Potomac area and showing every resem- 
blance to our present ware.^ 

Fig. 120. — Pamunkev earthenware pipes. Length of bowl of a from 
rim to stem, 1.4 in. (10/5729, 5732) 

The tubular form is present at Pamunkey (figs. 
117, h\ 119, c). From its wide distribution in 
America, and its occurrence in bone, wood, and stone 
in regions westward, this has generally been regarded 
as an early form. If so, then the practice of smoking 
and the art of clay-pipe making are fundamentals 
of Pamunkey culture. Specimens similar to every 
Pamunkey form have been obtained from surface 

^ Holmes, op. cit., pi. cxLii, d. The other pipes shown 
in the plate are absolutely identical with those from 
Pamunkey, though the author does not refer to locality. 


exploration of the whole adjacent tidewater. The 
Chickahominy has yielded quite a few. Yet it is 
worth noting that not every tidewater culture area 
yields pipes in the same abundance, for at Nanti- 
coke, on the eastern shore of the Chesapeake, a 
most extended surface examination continued irreg- 
ularly, of course, over some ten years has not pro- 
duced a single perfect clay pipe and only three 



Fig. 121.— Fragment of 
Pamunkey earthenware pipe- 
stem with design projected. 
Extreme length, 1.4 in. (11/- 

The influencing fac- 
tors on opposite sides of 
the Chesapeake were evi- 
dently different, for if 
the Nanticoke of Indian 
river, Delaware, made 
pipes in any abundance, 
their remains would be 
seen by the observer who 
knows the sites there as 
well as he does those on the Pamunkey. In both 
areas the ceramics are of the old Algonkian type, 
otherw^ise similar in quality and decoration. 

The modern Pamunkey have not quite left off 
making pipes. Some of the women, Mrs. Cook and 
Mrs. Adams, and some of the men, Jim Bradby 
and Paul Miles, manufacture them as they were 
made two generations ago. They dig their clay in 
the same holes along the river. They gather and 
burn the mussel-shells, and clean and mix the clay 
with the powdered shell in the same proportion, 



about one part of shell to five of clay. They burn 
them in the traditional way by piling a heap of dry 
fine sticks and a dozen or so dry cornstalks to the 
height of five or six inches, enough to cover two or 
three pipes which have been dried four or five days 
in the shade. Then when one covering of the 

Fig. 122. — Recent Pamunkey earthenware pipes. The lowermost 
one is 4 in. long. (11/8130, 8133-35, 8137) 

sticks has been burnt off, the pipes are done and 

ready for use. Their work is shown in figs. 122-125. 

Holmes has a short discussion of the clay pipes of 

the Chesapeake-Potomac group in his monograph.^ 

^ Holmes, op. cit., p. 158. 



-a ON 

.—I lO 


The forms, which he figures and which seem to be 
general and somewhat exclusive for this region in 
general, are the same as those discussed here and 
correspond to the pipe figured by Hariot from 
Roanoke in 1590. The tubular and the slightly 
bent elbow patterns prevail. Since in form, finish, 
and decoration they are generally uniform for 
this culture area, it brings satisfaction to be able 
to make a step in progress by defining the pipe 
characteristics of so wide an area under rather 
fixed standards. Very few stone pipes have come 
from the area: only one to my direct knowledge, a 
fragment of a "monitor" pipe from the Chicka- 
hominy river, evidently intrusive. 

Among the more peculiar products of eastern 
pipe-makers we encounter a few forms of the pipe 
bowl provided with four or five holes for the insertion 
of stems. This style has been preserved both at 
Pamunkey and at Catawba, a rather noteworthy 
coincidence in view of the supposed borrowing of 
ideas. The occurrence of these forms arouses a 
question both of antiquity and distribution. Were 
it not for the fact that similar pipe bowls have been 
reported from other eastern and southern centers 
there might be some doubt on the first question. 
The fact that the four-stemmed pipe is not only 
Pamunkey and Catawba is proved by a reference to 
its former use among the Chitimacha by Swanton ^ 

^ Swanton, J. R., Indian Tribes of the Lower Mississippi 
Valley, Bull. 43, Bur. Amer. EthnoL, 1911, p. 349. 








and by the finding of a specimen in the soil at 
Philadelphia. The latter was described and dis- 
cussed by Abbott.-^ 

Manifestly the survival of the unusual form is to 
be attributed to the irregular course of human 
nterest, illustrated by the persistence of objects 
of curiosity through a period of culture decline. 
That there was something in the four-stemmed pipe 
to appeal to the imagination of the Pamunkey and 
Catawba is apparent. Pollard was evidently the 
first to note the ''pipe for joy," as the Pamunkey 
called it in his time. He says of this clay pipe: 

In the bowl of this pipe are five holes made for the 
insertion of five stems, one for the chief and one each for 
the four council men. Before the days of peace these 
leaders used to celebrate their victories by arranging 
themselves in a circle and together smoking the "pipe- 
f or- joy." 2 

The Catawba form, called "peace-pipe," is inter- 
esting to us now. At Catawba it is asserted that the 
four-stemmed pipe was used, at the command of the 
chief, by men who respresented families having a 

1 Abbott, C. C, Primitive Industry, Salem, 1881, p. 333; 
also in Amer. Antiquarian, vol. i, p. 113. Abbott describes 
the pipe as made of white steatite. It was found in a 
grave on the almshouse property at West Philadelphia. 
It was nearly six inches in height. About two inches from 
the base there was a horizontal groove in which were 
pierced four equidistant stem-holes. The specimen was 
in possession of Mr. W. S. Vaux of Philadelphia. (Notes 
by P. E. Scott.) 

2 Pollard, op. cit., p. 18. 




>> .- 



Oh 00 


-(-> — ~. 


•-I -3 

O. » 

^ a-* 

S ft 



quarrel.^ When the parties had been induced to 
smoke the pipe, the quarrel was forgotten. The 
only other approach to this form of pipe is known 
in the double-bowl pipes from South Carolina and 
Tennessee, figured by McGuire.^ 

Putting things side by side, we may divine that 
the ''peace-pipe" was a native southeastern object 
surviving at Pamunkey, whose history paralleled 
that of the smooth pottery ware of both areas. 

One other point is worth considering for a moment: 
No stone pipes have been found at Pamunkey. In 
fact the only specimen of this nature from the 
neighborhood is the broken base of a soapstone pipe 
of the ''monitor" type from near Windsor Shades 
on Chickahominy river. The absence of stone pipes 
would seem to show either that smoking was con- 
temporaneous here only in a relatively late age of 
ceramics, or that the Powhatan peoples came into 
the region smoking only the clay pipes. That they 
had a recent residence where we find them may be 
suggested for consideration. 

Mention should at least be made of wooden pipes, 
generally formed of holly roots, made in the region 
(fig. 126). These have outlived the native clay 
pipes among the descendants of the tribes — their 
forms are evidently derived from the clay objects. 

1 Holmes (op. cit., pi. cxxviii) figures the Catawba 
peace-pipe and gives an account of Catawba pottery- 
making, pp. 53-55. Harrington, later in a more detailed 
study of Catawba methods, mentions the same object 
(Amer. Anthr., vol. x, no. 3, 1908). 

2McGuire, op. cit., p. 545, figs. 171-72. 



We now come to what is perhaps the most inter- 
esting topic in the material life of the southern tribes, 
the woven feather technique. An art so ancient 
and so elaborate can hardly be expected to have 
persisted from colonial times down to the present 
day where the process of deculturation among the 
conquered tribes has gone so far. But surprising 
as it is, the Virginia Indians have not entirely for- 
gotten, nor even lost, the art of weaving feathers 
into the foundation of textile fabrics. The antiquity 
of the woven-feather technique is attested by virtu- 
ally all the authors of the old colonial descriptions 
of Indian life, while its beauty and high esthetic 
quality have made it the supreme textile achieve- 
ment in a number of ethnic centers on the Pacific 
coast, in California, Mexico, and Ecuador, as well 
as in Polynesia. In the Gulf area the feather tech- 
nique was also widely distributed. Fortunately 
we have a number of references to it and some 
details of description are recorded. After presenting 
the Pamunkey facts, I shall revert to the distribution 
of this art in the Southeast and upward along the 
Atlantic coast to southern New England, giving 
reasons for the inference that this admirable art 
was one of the complexes suggested on page 235, 
emanating from some center of dispersion in the 
south and drifting north along the coast. 

The feather art is reported in early times from 
most of the lower Mississippi and Gulf tribes and as 







far north as the Delawares of Pennsylvania and the 
Narragansett of Rhode Island. 

The facts pertaining to the Virginia survival of 
this much-discussed art and technique are as follows: 

In 1919 I learned at the Mattaponi village from 
Mrs. John Langston that in her mother's time 
knitted textiles were occasionally made with wild- 
turkey feathers inserted at the loops, covering the 
whole of one side of the fabric. She also recalled 
the use of feathers other than those of the turkey in 
the making of decorated moccasin-tops and bags. 
Particular mention was made of capes so covered 
with turkey-feathers as to be warm and durable as 
well as beautiful. Mrs. Langston claimed to have 
been taught the process by her mother and then 
referred to several other old women who should 
have seen the feather articles in their younger days, 
and who perhaps knew also how to knit them. As 
a result of stimulating her interest she undertook 
then to make a specimen or two. 

From Margaret Adams, however, the oldest 
woman at Pamunkey town, who herself came from 
Mattaponi originally, the best specimens of the work 
were procured. Upon these specimens and informa- 
tion gleaned at large from the older women of both 
bands we may base the claims of the survival until 
today of the feather technique in Virginia. The 
specimens submitted are 'ndeed poor but tangible 
evidences of the old art's provenience and partial 


The material employed in the technique is native- 
raised and homespun cotton, which forms the base 
material of the fabric. 

The feathers used are primarily those of the wild 
turkey, domestic turkey, shelldrake, Guinea fowl, 
Virginia cardinal, flicker, and in one case parts of 
commercial ostrich-feathers dyed blue. 

The technique itself is not complicated, being 
neither particularly difficult to operate nor to 
describe. The plain knitting stitch is employed. 
Four steel or bone needles are used. Mrs. Adams 
said that she understood that the long leg-bones of 
herons, '* cranes," were used before trade needles 
reached them. Several of these (fig. 130) were 
obtained as specimens of the same, taken from the 
great blue heron. As the knitting proceeds, at a 
third or fourth stitch, a single feather is worked into 
the fabric, being caught fast by its base and some- 
times the shank of the plume, which is, of course, 
soft and pl'able, the feathers being carefully selected 
with this in view, and is caught in several stitches 
to hold it tight. In the better executed specimens 
the feathers are quite firmly attached. The turke}'- 
feather cape, for instance, may be suspended by 
almost any one of the feathers without danger of its 
shaking loose. 

This cape (figs. 4, 127) is made of native-spun 
cotton and wild-turkey breast-feathers, while near 
the ends the white feathers of the shelldrake are used. 
The color of the body of the garment is beautifully 


Fig. 128. — a. Specimen of feather weaving, Mattaponi (ostrich 
^eathers) ; 6, Piece of woven featherwork for decoration on front seam 
of moccasm, Mattaponi (wild-turkey, guinea-fowl, and goose feathers) ; 
c. Piece of featherwork for front of pouch Pamunkey (flicker, cardinal, 

and wild-turkey feathers). Length, 7 



iridescent black or bronze, the ends being varied 
with black and white. Strings of the cotton foun- 
dation, woven with fine duck-down, at each end 
permit the cape to be tied about the neck. 

Fig. 129, 

-Pamunkev moccasin-tops of wild-turkey feathers. 
Length, 13 in. (11/8139) 

The small specimen (hg. 128, c) is similarly woven 
and ornamented with cardinal, wild-turkey, and 
flicker feathers. It was to form the decorated front of 
a pouch. These two were made by Mrs. Adams. 
Mrs. Langston at Mattaponi made the other two small 
objects (fig. 128, a, 6), one woven, like the preceding, 



of guinea-fowl feathers, the other, 
of blue ostrich-feathers, intended for 
a moccasin-top decoration. 

Mrs. Langston says that in her 
mother's time, some sixty years 
ago, specimens of such capes and 
even moccasins were not infrequent. 
In fact they are rather well known 
in both tribes by hearsay. Duck- 
feathers are spoken of as much used, 
reminding one forcibly of the refer- 
ences in the older literature on the 
southern tribes. Mrs. Langston 
says that the stiff ends of the 
plumes projecting through the inside 
surface of the fabric were generally 
trimmed off even with the textile 
and then the feather surface was 
"rubbed down until it looked like 

Mention here might also be made 
of feather capes, known as well in 
recent times, i n which heron- 
feathers were simply sewed on a 
cloth cape in rows one above the 
other and overlapping. These are 
of course much more simple than 
the woven garments, but evidently 
none the less aboriginal. A collar Fig. 130.— Pa- 

r _^-i' r r munkey heron 

oi this torm appears worn as part of leg-bone needles. 

the Indian costume in the photo- in. 

Length, 7.6 and 6 



graph of Chief \V. T. Bradby (figs. 5, 6). The use 
of whole duck-skins as head coverings has persisted 
until the present. One such, worn by Lee Major, 
of Mattaponi, is shown in fig. 15. Loon- and 
heron-skins, either breasts or backsof the bird entire, 

Fig. 131.— Mattaponi feather headdress. Height, 11 in. (9/7766) 

were also employed. Descriptions of these articles, 
however, belong more appropriately under the topic 
of costume and ornament. 

The last and perhaps the most interesting speci- 
men to come to hand is a pair of moccasin-tops 
(fig. 129) made by Mrs. Adams. These are of wild- 


turkey breast-feathers woven on the cotton founda- 
tion in the same manner as in the cape. The 
feathers cover the entire top and sides of the 
moccasin, which is of the single instep seam type 
of the southern tribes, originally of deerskin, later 
of canvas. 

For Virginia we have numerous early references 
and descriptions of feather weaving. 

Of the Virginia Indians, Captain John Smith's 
account (1612) says: ''We have seen some use 
mantels made of Turkey patterns, so prettily 
wrought and woven with tweeds that nothing could 
be discerned but the feathers, that was exceeding 
warm and very handsome." ^ 

Strachey, writing in 1622, uses almost the same 
w^ords as does Smith in describing this remarkable 
art. He refers, however, frequently to the remark- 
able feather technique, referring to ''cloaks of 
feathers," "mantells of feathers," and describes a 
certain queen of Chawopo, who entertained him, 
dressed in a "mantell which they call puttawus, 
which is like a side cloake, made of blew feathers, 
so arteficyally and thick sowed togither, that it 
seemed like a deepe purple satten, and is very 
smooth and sleeke." He says these fabrics were 
sewed with thread of a kind of grass called pemmenaw 
spun between the thigh and the hands, and that 
not only mantles, but trousers and fishlines were 

^ Tyler, Narratives of Early Virginia, op. cit., p. 100. 


Fig. 132. — Two shell beads (roanoke) from the Pamunkey reserva- 
tion, King William county, Va. ,and fourteen specimens of fossil univalve 
wampum from site of Apocant, Chickahominy river. (10/5757, 5805) 


made of it.^ In another reference Strachey says 
that in Virginia the feather mantle was called 

The extension of the feather-woven fabrics to the 
Hudson river is vouched for by several references 
to this art among the Delaware Indians of New 
Jersey and Pennsylvania. Swedish and Dutch 
authors described "ingenious suits" made of turkey- 
feathers overlapping, and held together by means 
of wild-hemp cord.^ Skinner has compiled ethno- 
logical information concerning the Delawares of 
Staten Island, N. Y., in which there is reference to 
doublets of turkey-feathers in De Vries' Journal 
and other documents."^ 

Heckewelder ^ has a description of the mantles: 

Blankets made from feathers were also warm and 
durable. They were the work of the women, particularly 
of the old, who delight in such work. ... It requires 
great patience, being the most tedious kind of work I have 
seen them perform, yet they do it in a most ingenious 

1 Strachey, Historic of Travaile into Virginia, pp. 58, 
65, 68, 75. 

2 Ibid., p. 186. 

^Johnson, Amandus, The Indians and their Culture as 
Described in Swedish and Dutch Records from 1614 to 
1664, Proc. Nineteenth Internat. Congr. Americanists^ Wash- 
ington, 1915 (1917), p. 280. 

^Skinner, A. B., The Lenape Indians of Staten Island, 
Anthr. Papers Amer. Mus. Nat. Hist., vol. in, N. Y., 1909, 
pp. 40-41. 

^ Heckewelder, John, Indian Nations, Mem. Hist. Soc. 
Penn., vol. xii, Philadelphia, 1876, pp. 202-3. 


manner. The feathers, generally those of the turkey and 
goose, are so curiously arranged, and interwoven together 
with thread or twine w^hich they prepare from the rind or 
bark of the wild hemp and nettle, that ingenuity and skill 
cannot be denied them. 

The most northerly record of the feather mantle 
is encountered in Roger Williams' description ^ of 
the turkey-feather mantles of the Narragansett of 
Rhode Island. He remarks: '' Neyhommaua- 
shunck,^ a coat or Mantle, curiously made of the 
fairest feathers of their Neyhommauog or Turkies, 
which commonly their old men make; and is with 
them as velvet with us." Willoughby ^ quotes sev- 
eral other references to the art in New England. 

Among the Gulf and lower Mississippi tribes the 
feather technique was still more prominent, as is 
attested by a number of explorers and historians. 
The Carolina tribes of Siouan affinity were 
acquainted with the art, as we learn from Lawson, 
who in 1701 recorded it for the Santee and Catawba.^ 

Lawson mentions a ''doctor" of the Santee who 
''was warmly and neatly clad with a match coat, 

^ Williams, Roger, Key to the Indian Language, Coll. 
Rhode Island Hist. Soc, vol. i. Providence, 1827, p. 107. 

2 The term is literally "turkey mantle": neyhom (pi. 
-mduogj op. cit., p. 85); -uashunck denotes a mantle or 

^ Willoughby, C. C, in Amer, Anthr., vol. vii, no. 1, 

^Lawson, John, History of Carolina, 1714, quoted and 
discussed by James Mooney, Siouan Tribes of the East, 
Washington, 1894, pp. 70-79. 


Fig. 133. — Chickahominy chief's neck-ornament. 


Length, 7^ in. 


made of turkies feathers, which makes a pretty 

show, seeming as if it was a garment of the deepest 

silk shag." ^ 

In another place the same author says: 

Their feather match coats are very pretty, especially 
some of them, which are made extraordinary charming, 
containing several pretty figures wrought in feathers, 
making them seem like a fine flower silk shag; and when 
new and fresh, they become a bed very well instead of a 
quilt. Some of another sort are made of hair, racoon, 
bever, or squirrel skins, which are very warm. Others 
again are made of the green part of the skin of a mallard's 
head, which they sew perfectly well together, their thread 
being either the sinews of a deer divided very small, or 
silk grass. When these are finished, they look very finely, 
though they must needs be very troublesome to make.^ 

Feather mantles ''of various colors" of the tribes 
of the South Carolina coast, identified by Swanton 
as Cusabo, were mentioned by Peter Martyr.^ 
Again the feather mantles were seen among the 
Mobile Indians in 1540 and described as follows by 
Ranjel: "He [the chief] also wore a pelote or mantle 
of feathers down to his feet, very imposing." ^ 

The Creeks were adepts in the art of feather 
weaving, for Bartram was impressed with the beauty 
of cloaks woven of flamingo-feathers which he 
described in several of his works. ^ 

1 Lawson, ibid., Raleigh ed., 1860, p. 37. 

2 Ibid., pp. 311-12. 

2 Quoted by Swanton, J. R., Early History of the 
Creek Indians, Bull. 73, Bur. Amer. Ethnol., 1922, p. 44. 

^Swanton, ibid., p. 151. 

^Bartram, Wm., Travels Through North and South 
Carolina, Philadelphia, 1791, pp. 502-03, and Observations 
on the Creek and Cherokee Indians (1789), in Trans. 
Amer. Ethnol. Soc, vol. iii, pt. 1 (1853), p. 29. 


Du Pratz thus describes the art in Louisiana: 

If the women know how to do this kind of work they 
make mantles either of feathers or woven of the bark of 
the mulberry tree. We will describe their method of doing 
this. The feather mantles are made on a frame similar 
to that on which the peruke makers work hair; they spread 
the feathers in the same manner and fasten them on old 
fish nets or old mantles of mulberry bark. They are 
placed, spread in this manner, one over the other and on 
both sides; for this purpose small turkey feathers are used; 
women who have feathers of swans or India ducks, which 
are white, make these feather mantles for women of high 

And in another place he continues: 

Many of the women wear cloaks of the bark of the 
mulberry tree, or of the feathers of swans, turkies, or 
India ducks. The bark they take from young mulberry 
shoots that rise from the roots of trees that have been cut 
down; after it is dried in the sun they beat it to make all 
the woody part fall off, and they give the threads that 
remain a second beating, after which they bleach them 
by exposing them to the dew. When they are well whit- 
ened they spin them about the coarseness of pack-thread, 
and weave them in the following manner: they plant two 
stakes in the ground about a yard and a half asunder, and 
having stretched a cord from the one to the other, they 
fasten their threads of bark double to this cord, and then 
interweave them in a curious manner into a cloak of about 
a yard square with a wrought border round the edges.^ 

Butel-Dumont also adds to the testimony by 

1 Le Page Du Pratz, Histoire de la Louisiane, English 
trans., London, 1763, vol. ii, pp. 191-92. 

2 Ibid., p. 23. 



a b 

Fig. 134.— Old (a) and new (6) types of Mattaponi bullroarers. 
Length of a. 8i in. (9/7738, 7759) 


briefly describing the featherwork of the natives of 
Louisiana as follows: 

They [the women] also, without a spinning wheel or dis- 
taff, spin the hair or wool of cattle of which they make 
garters and ribands; and with the thread which they obtain 
from lime-tree bark, they make a species of mantle, which 
they cover with the finest swan's feathers one by one to 
the material. A long task indeed, but they do not count 
this trouble and time when it concerns their satisfaction.^ 

The featherwork of the Choctaw is described by 
Adair as follows: 

They likewise make turkey feather blankets with the 
long feathers of the neck and breast of that large fowl — 
they twist the inner end of the feathers very fast into a 
strong double thread of hemp, or the inner bark of the 
mulberry tree, of the size and strength of coarse twine, as 
the fibres are sufficiently fine, and they work it in manner 
of fine netting. As the feathers are long and glittering, 
this sort of blankets is not only very warm, but pleasing 
to the eye. 2 

At Cutifachiqui similar fabrics were observed by 
members of De Soto's expedition in 1540: 

In the barbacoas were large quantities of clothing, 
shawls of thread, made from the barks of trees and others 
of feathers, white gray, vermilion and yellow, rich and 
proper for winter.^ 

^ Memoire sur la Louisiane, Paris, 1753, vol. i, pp. 154- 

2 Adair, James, History of the American Indians, 
London, 1775, pp. 422-23. 

^ Narratives of the Career of Hernando de Soto in the 
Conquest of Florida as told by a Knight of Elvas, trans- 
lated by Buckingham Smith, New York, 1866, p. 63. 


Later authors^ have mentioned this elaborate 
art and commented upon its diffusion. Wissler 
suggests a Mexican center of diffusion ^ where the 
technique is most elaborate and equals the Peruvian 
work in quality and complexity. The distribution 
of featherwork in South America is wide and the 
technique conforms in general with that of Peru.^ 


In the foregoing chapters I have completed the 
third of a series of monographs dealing with the 
modern cultural life of communities of descendants 
tracing their origin from the tribes inhabiting the 
Chesapeake tidewater area. The question arises as 
to the bearing of such studies on the ethnology of 
the original native groups, since there has been so 

^ Willoughby, C. C, The Virginia Indians in the 
Seventeenth Century, Amer. Anthr., vol. ix, 1907, p. 69. 
Holmes, W. H., Prehistoric Textile Art of the Eastern 
United States, Thirteenth Ann. Rep. Bur. Amer. Ethnol.y 
1891-92, pp. 24-30. 

2 Wissler, Clark, The American Indian, 1917, p. 61. 
He quotes Sahagun as the principal source for the descrip- 
tion of this trait-complex. The most accessible treatment 
for Central America is that of Eduard Seler, Ancient 
Mexican Feather Ornaments, Bull. 28, Bur. Amer. EthnoL, 
1904, and for the Maya, P. Schellhas, Comparative Studies 
in the Field of Maya Antiquities, ibid., pp. 611-12. 

2 Mead, C. W., Technique of Some South American 
Feather Work, Papers Amer. Mus. Nat. Hist., vol. i, pt. 1, 
1907. E. Nordenskicld (An Ethnogeographical Analysis of 
the Material Culture of Two Indian Tribes in the Gran 
Chaco, Gothenburg, 1919, p. 230) emphasizes the lack of 
data for a study of distribution in South America. 


extensive a transformation in their make-up through 
European influence. The Virginia Indians, like all 
peoples passing through successive changes in their 
transit from simple to complex culture, must have 
undergone revolutions in their mode of life many 
times. This can be imagined when we picture the 
waves of influence that swept across their frontiers 
from surrounding areas in earlier times. These 
changes, before the coming of Europeans, would all 
seem to have remained within the horizon of native 
American culture, hence were less violent in effect. 
For, viewed at several periods of their history, 
separated by intervals of a century, we see the same 
tribes greatly altered in their physical and cultural 
aspects. By contrast with the tribes in Beverley's 
time they are constitutionally new tribes now. 
Despite this, something more than moral and 
social tradition survives to continue the group as a 
unit under its old name. 

It is difficult to point out just what surviving 
qualities there are beyond those discussed herein. 
Conversions of similar magnitude from one type of 
civilization to another have marked their progress, 
as is apparent in scanning their history since 1607. 
And again the same may be inferred easily when 
we build upon ethnological and archeological infer- 
ences. Although possessed of Algonkian speech, 
with affinities northward, their social and political 
properties, as known to us, conform to southeastern 
Siouan types, while their religious peculiarities point 


to affinities with the southeast in general. Sweeping 
cultural change is indicated. Finally when the 
change — nearly the ultimate one before demise — 
comes to them through the agency of Europeans, 
whose cultural properties we know too well to 
consider interesting when transferred to other races, 
the thing appears as a platitude and we are inclined 
to discount the final condition as lacking in value 
and appeal. Yet it is obvious that this should not 
be so in the eyes of culture historians, lest through 
similar sentiments the account of greater modern 
peoples similarly transformed be closed — a case not 
without parallel in Europe and Asia. Culture his- 
tory does not cease to evolve even for these wasted 
remnants of peoples whose will and temperament 
three centuries ago meant success or failure to the 
struggling and feeble colonies whose descendants 
have replaced them. 

Now comes an era of reconstruction since 1920. 
The descendants of the Powhatan groups, to avert 
obliteration of their names and racial tradition, have 
organized into corporate associations and proceeded 
along modern lines to carry on a social program for 
consolidation of their forces. It opens another 
phase of their history, hopeful in certain aspects, 
though impeded by recollections of recent social 
oppression, poverty, slander, and naive ignorance 
of white diplomacy. Their desire to exist as smaller 
nationalities is behind the move. To revive the 
individuality of their Indian ancestry, they have 


resorted to grafting customs borrowed from alien 
Indian groups upon their own denuded cultural 
framework. This accounts for the introduction of 
elements of costume, ceremony, and social pageantry 
met with in their modern tribal life and conspicuous 
in some of the illustrations of this paper. The 
critic regards it as degenerate ethnology; but it is 
not, except in technique: rather is it regenerate. 
Now at the final move they face the alternatives of 
losing hold completely and turning down and out 
in their endeavor, or, more happily, of struggling 
onward with revived vigor and purpose. The future 
student of American folk-communities of Indian 
descent will find here new tribes with new trait- 
complexes to analyze and interpret. These con- 
tributions represent some culture aspects of the 
humble groups now at a climax and turning point 
in their history. 


The following note in reference to the regalia of 
the Queen of Pamunkey was received from Dr. W. 
Franklin Jones of Richmond (correspondence, Nov- 
ember 21, 1928): 

"The Queen of Pamunkey, a descendant of Ope- 
chancanough and Totopotomoi's widow, was intro- 
duced into the room and recognized in certain special 
dignities. Accompanied by an interpreter, and her 
son, a youth of 20 years, she entered with graceful 


dignity. Around her head she wore a plait of black 
and white wampumpeake, a drilled purple bead of 
shell, three inches wide, after the manner of a 

''There is preserved in the House of Chief Justice 
John Marshall, Richmond, Va., a silver frontlet, 
purchased from the Indians, with a coat of arms, and 
inscribed 'The Queen of Pamunkey,' 'Charles, the 
Second, King of England, Scotland, France, Ireland 
and Virginia,' and ' Honi soit qui mal y pense.' 

"This frontlet is mounted on a purple velvet 
turban; the chains are missing, and I have copied the 
following description as written. 

'"This silver frontlet was a gift from Charles the 
Second of England to the Queen of the Pamunkey 
Indians who were then located in the eastern counties 
of Virginia. The original gift to the Queen was a 
Royal Purple Velvet Crown to which this frontlet 
was attached by heavy silver chains. 

"'For many years much prized by the Pamunkey 
Tribe, it was in the keeping of the Chief. Desiring 
to move further West, the Indians, in the early 
part of the 19th century, set out upon their march. 
Sickness and a severe winter detained them near 
Hollywood, Stafford county, Virginia, the estate of 
Alexander Morson. He permitted them to camp 
upon his place and was very kind to them, giving 
them food and medicine and making them comfort- 
able. Spring found the Indians ready to move. 
The Chief called upon Mr. Morson to express 


gratitude for his kindness and presented this precious 
relic as a gift, the only thing of value possessed by the 
tribe. Mr. IVIorson was unwilling to accept the gift, 
but when before leaving the Chief again insisted 
upon its acceptance, Mr. Morson consented to 
purchase the relic for its weight in silver coin, and 
upon those terms became the owner. By his father's 
will this relic came into the possession of Mr. Arthur 
Morson of Richmond, and later into possession of the 
Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiqui- 
ties by purchase.'" 

\ ' I 


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